New legislation focuses on housing stress

NEW legislation introduced in the Legislative Assembly today (May 10), will prioritise people experiencing homelessness and low income households in housing stress, says Minister for Housing and Suburban Development Yvette Berry.  

Yvette Berry

Ms Berry and Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay says the reforms contained in the “Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018” arose out of work to develop a new ACT Housing Strategy.

Mr Ramsay says: “We are looking at better ways to support crisis accommodation, student accommodation, and all renters.”

“The Victorian Government’s announcement about enhancing renters rights are being closely examined for ideas to make our own residential tenancies legislation better,” he says. 

“This legislation helps people who face housing stress by providing a clearer, fairer process for managing unpaid rent.

“It resolves ongoing uncertainty in the existing legislation by creating a safeguard for vulnerable Canberrans.

“Breaches of a payment plan for unpaid rent will no longer automatically end a tenancy.”

Under the current legislation, a tenancy agreement can be ended in circumstances outside of a tenant’s control and even against the wishes of a lessor.

This could happen where a conditional termination and possession order was made by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. The Bill replaces conditional termination and possession orders with a new process for dealing with unpaid rent, and it provides safeguards for vulnerable tenants.

“These changes will mean that lessors have a clear process for going to the ACAT to collect unpaid rent and to set up a plan,” he says.

“If a renter still has trouble meeting the payment plan, they will still be able to have their circumstances brought before the ACAT before any steps towards eviction take place.

“The new provisions in this Bill will save tenants and landlords time in ACAT working out technical issues about tenancies and ensure everyone’s rights and obligations are more certain.”

The legislation also contains an amendment to reintroduce the legislative stay on offering alternatives to a bond in the ACT. The stay will operate until a written declaration by the Minister provides for the commencement of legislation to regulate bond alternatives.

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