28 September 2018

Community alliance to launch campaign for changes to tenancy laws

| Ian Bushnell
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Affordable housing

Canberra’s house rents are the second-highest in the country.

An alliance of community organisations will launch its campaign for a ‘fairer’ renting system in Canberra today (1 October), with a call for reform of the ACT Residential Tenancies Act.

The Make Renting Fair CBR Alliance – The Tenants’ Union ACT, UnionsACT, Better Renting, and Shelter ACT – are calling on the ACT Government to prevent unfair evictions, introduce fairer rent increase requirements, and establish minimum standards for rental properties, among other changes.

Attorney-General amd Minister for Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay is due to introduce amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act (1997) by the end of the year and the Greens are also calling for reform.

The push comes as the housing squeeze in the ACT tightens with rents continuing to climb to levels only second to Sydney in cost, and vacancy rates falling to the second lowest in the country.

Executive Officer of Tenants’ Union ACT Deb Pippen said renting needed to be fairer because a growing number of people were now renting for life.

“More people are renting for longer, including families and retirees,” she said.

Secretary of UnionsACT Alex White said that while housing costs had gone up, wages had stagnated.

“More workers are renting in Canberra, and they are facing unfair rental increases and being forced to accept unsafe, substandard houses,” he said.

Executive Director of lobby group Better Renting Joel Dignam said the system needed to be rebalanced.

“We’re asking Minister Ramsay to bring a bit of balance back to the system. The Government has a responsibility to make sure that all members of our community can have a decent home,” he said.

Following today’s launch, the Alliance will mobilise renters in support of changing the laws, starting on Sunday through a series of ‘TenantTalks’. The campaign will involve supporting renters to tell their own stories of renting in the ACT and what needs to change.

Several other jurisdictions are already improving tenancy laws to make renting fairer, including Victoria, where renters gained the right to have a pet and to make minor modifications. The NSW Parliament began debating changes to their tenancy laws two weeks ago.

The real estate industry is expected to resist changes that would impact on landlords.

To view the alliance’s wish list of changes to the renting laws, go to https://www.makerentingfaircbr.org.au/

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