Despite the scaremongering, Greens claim wins for renters rights

Caroline Le Couteur MLA 9 October 2019 71

Greens housing spokesperson Carolyn le Couteur says its time for a look at renters rights. Photo: Supplied.

Australia has one of the most out-of-control rental markets in the world. Canberra is no exception.

For too long, there’s been a major imbalance in our rental market – with landlords having significantly more rights than their tenants. Anyone who has ever queued up along with a dozen other prospective tenants when inspecting a rental property can tell you about this Canberra reality.

Yet with more people renting, for longer, this needs to change. Its’ been a great few weeks for renters in Canberra.

From 1 November 2019, renters will now be allowed to have pets in their homes—so long as the home is returned to its original state before the lease ends. This shift the onus of responsibility from tenant to landlord – instead of a tenant needing to seek approval to have a pet, landlords will now need to show cause as to why a tenant in their property should not have a pet.

Similarly, instead of a tenant having to dispute an unreasonable increase in their rent, it will now be up to the landlord to argue the case for the increase.

The Greens know how important it is to make a house a home. It’s the little personal touches that are all the difference—hanging your favourite artworks and family photos or putting up a shelf for mementoes and books.

In February 2019, the major parties voted against a Greens amendment that would have finally given Canberra renters the right to make minor and reversible modifications without having to seek their landlord’s permission.

Last week we learned that the Government has now changed its mind – and will now allow minor modifications in rental properties from 1 November 2019. Like having pets and disputing unreasonable rental increases, this means that landlords will have to justify why a tenant shouldn’t be allowed to put up a picture hook. It’s sensible, it’s straightforward, and it’s well overdue.

As expected, there’s always the naysayers. Rather than back a better deal for renters, the Canberra Liberals have argued that property investors are pulling out of the Canberra market and shifting their investment into NSW.

Liberals MLA Mark Parton had this to say: “you talk to real estate agents, and most of them will tell you that they’ve lost a third of their rent roll in the last year or so.” I am not aware that there is any evidence of this. These sorts of claims are hyperbole at best, and rank at scaremongering at worst.

This week has been a great week for Canberra renters. While these reforms mean that life will get easier for renters in some ways, the Greens think there’s still a way to go before renters get the deal they deserve.

Find out more about Greens housing policy and renter’s rights here

Caroline Le Couteur MLA is the ACT Greens Housing spokesperson.

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71 Responses to Despite the scaremongering, Greens claim wins for renters rights
Ol L Ol L 4:22 pm 18 Apr 21

This cannot be true as Mr Barr has stated
Mr Barr said the analysis showed the stamp duty reductions were helping first-home buyers and lower-income renters get a foot in the property door.

“Despite anecdotal commentary to the contrary, there was no definitive evidence that tax reform had led to higher rental prices in the ACT. In fact, that analysis found that there were more properties available to rent due to tax reform,” Mr Barr said.

However, low-income home owners benefited the least from the new tax model, the analysis found.

Glen Hyde Glen Hyde 4:43 am 11 Oct 19

Wow I have been a landlord and a tenant but never have I heard a greater bunch of self entitled rants than on here from the landlords. Seriously? Ella Factor has nailed your complaints to the wall. This is the most lucrative small business in the country and while the pendulum has finally swung back to the middle after decades of renters being marginalised, all I hear is a whinge against everyone but yourselves. There are so many good landlords out there who view their role as integral to good social cohesion and not just about turning a buck. If that’s not on your agenda, please buy a property in Mogadishu where you’ll be treated to some great tenants and the government will slug you 55% on your rental returns.

Be grateful you live in this country with governments and tribunals that support you.

rfc rfc 7:59 pm 10 Oct 19

No problems. I will use their bond to replace the carpet and paint the property when they move out. It is the only way to rid the pet smells.

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 5:40 pm 10 Oct 19

Has Shane Rattenbury disclosed whether he has in fact rented out his two negatively-geared apartments on the light rail route to low-income, needy folk, as he had promised?

bj_ACT bj_ACT 3:34 pm 10 Oct 19

I’m concerned this is another change that will lead to unintended outcomes.

We were told by the government that Rates and Land Tax increases wouldn’t affect weekly rent, but they did.

The ACT Government has vastly reduced the proportion of Government housing in Canberra and shifted the responsibility for housing lower income tenants onto private landlords through the federal Government negative gearing tax incentives.

A large proportion of new House and Unit builds are for Property investors, these properties are often sold after seven years to owner occupiers. Creating a house supply cycle.

I’m not sure the Greens or any of the major parties actually understand the property market in canberra or are willing and able to implement better housing policy for both owners and renters.

Phil Andrews Phil Andrews 3:04 pm 10 Oct 19

This along with land tax has rendered Canberra a less attractive investment market. And the Barr/Greens govt scratch their heads & complain about housing affordability & lack of rentals. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Mitch Mitch 2:19 pm 10 Oct 19

From a property managers perspective, I actually don’t think much will change besides an increase in ACAT applications.
We will still be checking the property thoroughly after a tenant vacates and have the cleaning/damages rectified. We will still be taking 100’s of photos prior to the tenant moving in and doing inspections every 6 months.
Tenants that are respectable will ask first and owners that are reasonable and have no reason to say no will allow pets. The issues we have already with pet damage or urine etc aren’t going to go away because of this new legislation and will be dealt with accordingly at ACAT.
Modifications like hooks should be allowed and tenants that rip them off the wall carelessly taking paint will be dealt with accordingly at ACAT.
There are good and bad tenants, but there is equally as many bad owners vs good. However statistically speaking, we’ve been to ACAT twice in 18 months – neither were about pets, modifications, rent increases or energy efficiencies so go figure 😉
If you employ a good property manager, your risk of having problems will substantially decrease.
The biggest reason our owners/properties would deplete is purely the initial cost of the investment and ongoing costs ie rates, landtax, strata is subsequently producing crap returns.

Tijana Delov Tijana Delov 11:17 pm 09 Oct 19

It should be up to the landlords if they want to allow pets. Ever tried getting a dog smell out of a house without replacing all the carpet and disinfecting the whole house? The smell is very noticeable to people who don't have pets. That's not even taking into account the damage I've seen dogs do to rental properties, inside and out.

Peta Jane Moore Peta Jane Moore 9:08 pm 09 Oct 19

I’m sorry.... who owns the property??

Glen Tobin Glen Tobin 8:14 pm 09 Oct 19

This was a big reason I sold my investment property in Canberra the government is out of control

The rates was another big reason too

    Stan Weatherill Stan Weatherill 8:22 pm 09 Oct 19

    Glen Tobin down here so many people are removing the rentals from the market and turning them in Airbnb’s less wear and tear on the house and more money. Government needs to think about what they are doing in Canberra or it will get the same way.

    Doris Andrews Doris Andrews 10:47 am 13 Oct 19

    Daniel Evans yes. Landlord tax is so wrong. If the government was serious about helping renters they would remove it immediately

Paul Waters Paul Waters 6:16 pm 09 Oct 19

this needs to be Australia wide! people are paying ridiculous amounts in rent therefore should be allowed to have pets, it's time that landlords realise that it's tenants that are making them rich!

    Phil Andrews Phil Andrews 2:54 pm 10 Oct 19

    Paul you’re living in la la land if you think all landlords are rich. Maybe it’s some landlords planning for their future 💁🏻‍♂️

Ricky Toms Ricky Toms 6:12 pm 09 Oct 19

Here we go again... government telling everyone how to live and what to do 😡

Bek Clark Bek Clark 5:48 pm 09 Oct 19

Long term leases pls

6 or 12 month leases by default are ridiculous, particularly in light of speculative investment.

Investors don’t care that it costs a fortune and is massively disruptive to have to pack and move all the time.

    Andrea Kerr Andrea Kerr 10:37 pm 09 Oct 19

    Bek Clark yes too bad if the owner wants their property back because it’s cost you money to move and is disruptive for you.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 7:43 pm 10 Oct 19

    I used to have a rental property and I would have been willing to give longer leases, although no tenant inquired about one. However, I would prefer first for the tenant to have a year lease, so that I could judge what sort of tenant they were, and then good tenants I would have been prepared to give longer leases to. I had tenants from bad, okay to brilliant tenants. (The funny thing is that one of my very best tenants had a criminal record, although I didn't know this until later.) In practice, although they only had an initial 12 month lease, most tenancies went on for as long as the tenant wanted, and if they were a good tenant I was also likely not to raise the rent, even though the agent suggested this. I only rented this house out for seven years though, as I planned to live there myself, so I wouldn't have wanted to give a tenant a lease that went for years. But two or three years would have been okay for the right tenant.

Neica Hall Neica Hall 5:23 pm 09 Oct 19

Have just moved from Canberra last year after renting for 3 years. The 2 bed 2 bath apartment had worn out carpet, seriously needed painting, mold in the bedroom and ensuite and we were paying $560 a week. Only positive was we were near the shops and a short bus ride to Civic. The carpet cleaner who did the clean before we moved out said the unit was a health hazard and we should not have been living here.

Adam Horner Adam Horner 4:59 pm 09 Oct 19

While I agree with the sentiment of making a house a home for everyone, including renters, ACT Gov policy is making it impossible to be a landlord. We have 2 investment properties (one bought to live in and one purely as an investment), we have actively sought tenants with pets, are very responsive to maintenance and reasonable upgrade requests, undercut the market by $10 a week minimum for rent and even send our tenants Christmas gifts every year. Between flooding the market with new apartments, drastic increases in rates and taxes and now regulations like this, our investment has cost us around $100K over the last 5 years. If the government continues to swing the pendulum too far the other way to ensure "renters get the deal they deserve", investors will walk away in droves leaving a shortage in rental accommodation further inflating the rental prices. The only saving grace is that most investors can't afford to get out, we have to try to recoup some of our losses.

    Tania Milovanovic Tania Milovanovic 5:26 pm 09 Oct 19

    Adam Horner well said! I will sell my place before I rent it again. Or I will ONLY rent it to people I know. This equally will disadvantage renters. Too risky and landlords are out of pocket enough!!

    Ashley Latimer Ashley Latimer 6:20 pm 09 Oct 19

    If you can't afford your investment property, it's a bad investment.

    Adam Horner Adam Horner 6:43 pm 09 Oct 19

    Ashley Latimer it wasn’t 7 years ago before the ACT Gov started approving residential skyscrapers on every street corner dropping apartment values by 10 to 15% while raising rates and tax by 300%. But your right, it is a bad investment which means less people will be investing, less rental properties on the market, higher rents and lower housing affordability. Loss / loss for everyone, landlords and renters alike.

    Adam Horner Adam Horner 6:52 pm 09 Oct 19

    Tania Milovanovic we don’t have any problems with the people we have rented to, that makes us fortunate as we have the means to ride thorough this market insanity created by the poor gov policy. While we would love to sell so we don’t have to deal with the hassle, we just can’t justify the capital losses.

    Steve Aust Steve Aust 6:53 pm 09 Oct 19

    Adam Horner - excellent post Adam & I have made similar posts here as well. Where are the Canberra Liberals on this?

    Ovlan Ourie Ovlan Ourie 6:54 pm 09 Oct 19

    this argument run by landlords (and often by the liberal party and property groups) that investors walking away will reduce the available rental properties is completely wrong. Unless of course, the investor demolishes the property and literally just walks away? In reality, they will sell. Either to another investor or to a renter. Either way, net result = no decrease in dwellings for renters. In fact the best result for renters is for investors to desert the market. I urge you all to do this

    Adam Horner Adam Horner 7:16 pm 09 Oct 19

    Dylan Durie the rental market has risen by around 18% in the last two years while losses for landlords (between capital losses and net income) continues to grow. Is that not evidence that there is a basis for the “scaremongering”? How is that good for either side of the ledger? There is a happy medium which would provide affordable rent and modest returns for mum and dad investors trying to avoid the pension in their golden years. At the moment everyone is losing, it isn’t about greedy landlords trying to squeeze every last penny out of renters.

    Sarah Emmerson Sarah Emmerson 7:54 pm 09 Oct 19

    Adam Horner and to add to that, strata companies are becoming extremely costly. Our strata costs went up neatly 40% in 12 months. Yes I know as a unit owner there is a need to shop around but these companies are raising the costs because of the increased demand.

    Ovlan Ourie Ovlan Ourie 9:19 pm 09 Oct 19

    Adam Horner basically you’re saying that somebody who can’t afford to buy their own place, quite possibly in the prime of their wage earning life, should be giving you an investment return and funding you’re retirement. Or in other words, you’re utilising the fact that you’re in a stronger economic position than the renter, and exploiting that strength to increase the disparity even further. I know I can’t convince you, but many ppl are starting to understand the landlord/renter “relationship” is purely one of exploitation

    Jay Kay Jay Kay 9:24 pm 09 Oct 19

    Tldr Investors would sell, allowing the market to correct. This is long overdue

    Sarah Emmerson Sarah Emmerson 10:16 pm 09 Oct 19

    Dylan Durie I don’t read it like that at all with what Adam Horner was saying. Your perspective to me is also very one sided. I see that being a landlord assists those that can’t access a loan (for what ever reason) and have somewhere to live. Yes, a rental is an investment, but so is keeping your money in the bank. So when you weigh up the costs of keeping your investment to at least maintain the value of what you put in... it isn’t adding up as to having a rental property.

    I also add, just because someone can have an investment property doesn’t necessarily mean they earn a lot of money either.

    On that note...

    I know pensioners who can save and budget for an overseas trip (I’m talking just relying on what the basic pension rate is) where others can’t. No two peoples financial situation is the same.

    Ultimately though, is that no, landlords sometimes aren’t covering their costs by what the rent is so to say all landlord renter relationship is exploitation that is not accurate.

    Adam Horner Adam Horner 10:22 pm 09 Oct 19

    Dylan Durie saying that we are exploiting people is completely insulting and down right wrong. Yes, we are looking for a return (which to date we haven’t got, in fact we are subsiding people who aren’t “in a stronger economic position” than us to the tune of $20k per year), but that still can be done in an ethical and community minded way. Government seeks private investment in all sorts of ways, if you didn’t have private investors then who would provide housing? The government doesn’t have the resources to do it sustainably so what, are you going to leave it to profit orientated multinational corporations, surely they won’t exploit anyone? So maybe we can look at not for profits, but they have admin overheads that will need to covered so they will be seeking a return to cover those costs. So, we’re back to Government, even if they could I know from personal experience that they also seek returns charging high rent and poorly maintaining a number of their properties to meet their economic goals. There is no perfect model but there is a lot of mutually beneficial goals that can be achieved in the current model. If you think landlord are evil, what’s your suggestion???

    Anna Cohen Anna Cohen 1:14 am 10 Oct 19

    Sarah Emmerson yes. strata fees are THE issue. And it’s only going to get worse here in Canberra.

    Ovlan Ourie Ovlan Ourie 9:20 am 10 Oct 19

    Adam Horner My suggestion is that just like education and healthcare, the government should treat housing as a basic human right and ensure it is provided to everybody. We are guaranteed a place in public school, and guaranteed coverage by Medicare, but what use is either when you can’t afford a secure roof over your head?

    Kieran Heid Kieran Heid 12:54 pm 10 Oct 19

    One of the biggest social issues facing our country is the declining rate of owner-occupiers. The property market has been overinflated for years. It's time renters who are pushed out of ever actually owning a home can live a better life in a rental arrangement. Many landlords are never this accomodating.

    Ashley Latimer Ashley Latimer 2:17 pm 10 Oct 19

    Adam Horner it may have been a good investment 7 years ago. Investors don’t hold onto their investments when they become bad investments.

    Ashley Latimer Ashley Latimer 2:28 pm 10 Oct 19

    Sarah Emmerson again, if a landlord can’t cover the cost of their investment property, it👏is👏a👏bad👏investment👏

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:01 am 12 Oct 19

    Dylan Durie If the government had to supply housing for a large chunk of the population, you could not expect a house or flat; more like a small room in a hostel at most, with the bathroom down the hall. Rather like the accommodation I started out in. But I still had to pay for that, and it wasn't cheap. Also, expect taxes to cover this to go up considerably. There were families living there too, although they got bigger rooms, which no doubt cost more than my tiny room.

    Louis Tian Louis Tian 10:17 pm 13 Oct 19

    Dylan Durie Sounds like a familiar idea. Yeah, it's called communism.

Danielle Smith Danielle Smith 1:37 pm 09 Oct 19

I've been renting in Sydney and ACT for over 20 years and it irks me that a few give all renters a bad name. Yes i have a dog, yes i clean up after her, yes i walk her (permanently on lead coz of the new laws!), yes i keep her busy so she doesnt bark excessively. Some of us are responsible - please don't tar us all with the same brush!

    Raffy Sgroi Raffy Sgroi 4:52 pm 09 Oct 19

    Danielle Smith agree! Not all tenants are the same. Between landlord and tenant should be mutual agreement and respect. Things can happen with or without pets. I think the real problem today is coming up with the rental bond. Maybe the Government should commit to help with that

Judith Scerri Judith Scerri 1:23 pm 09 Oct 19

Please- pets are animals that should be living outdoors. To really have a postive impact on the rental market there should be changes in home energy effiency expectations.

    Car La Car La 2:03 pm 09 Oct 19

    Judith Scerri my pet is an inside animal 🤷‍♀️

    Judith Scerri Judith Scerri 4:47 pm 09 Oct 19

    Having pets inside a house is not a necessity, its a choice

    Car La Car La 5:20 pm 09 Oct 19

    Judith Scerri a choice made by most pet owners that love their pets. In some countries it's now illegal to leave your dog outside for more than an hour.

    Neica Hall Neica Hall 5:25 pm 09 Oct 19

    Rentals are at a premium in Canberra so the landlord will just choose the application from the person who doesn't have a pet.

    Glenn Hayman Glenn Hayman 5:33 pm 09 Oct 19

    My fish would struggle to live outdoors

    Judith Scerri Judith Scerri 5:33 pm 09 Oct 19

    Carla Rose I think that law is absolutely crazy! I'm glad Australia hasn't come to that yet. Dogs are animals, who naturally belong outside!

    I'm just saying it is not exactly 'progress' in the Canberra rental market to make amendments in regards to pets

    Judith Scerri Judith Scerri 5:51 pm 09 Oct 19

    Kelly Soli not at all cruel.. I am entitled to my opinion. Just because people buy pets that do not belong in our climate does not change the fact that naturally animals live outside. Homes are the invention of, and made for humans

    Jan McElligott Jan McElligott 5:52 pm 09 Oct 19

    Why would you get a pet if all you do is keep it outside?

    Cathy Dearnley Cathy Dearnley 8:42 pm 09 Oct 19

    Judith Scerri cats must be indoors in many Canberra suburbs

    Judith Scerri Judith Scerri 9:57 pm 09 Oct 19

    Also Cathy Dearnley Cat containment means that your pet cat does not leave your property. It does not mean you must keep it indoors

    Nick Pascual Nick Pascual 10:01 pm 09 Oct 19

    Humans originally lived in caves too. Judith are your ready to give up your double glazing and reverse cycle air conditioning?

Peter Major Peter Major 1:07 pm 09 Oct 19

Stupid Green laws. Who compensates landlord for damage and decontamination

    Andrea Kerr Andrea Kerr 3:49 pm 09 Oct 19

    Peter Major just watch bond returns getting reduced and claims to ACAT from unhappy tenants who destroy property and don’t want to pay to fix things like urine stained carpet and poorly done patch jobs on walls.

    Peter Major Peter Major 8:12 pm 09 Oct 19

    Andrea Kerr can the landlords sue the Greens and hold them accountable for a change

Graham Cox Graham Cox 12:41 pm 09 Oct 19

Just remember that land lords are people like you and me and only want to protect what they've spent lots of money on. Renters need to get this whole 'entitlement' thing out of their heads. They would do the exact same thing if they became land lords. Be greatful that your approved for a rental property.

    AbbDon Helen AbbDon Helen 12:58 pm 09 Oct 19

    Graham Cox agree with you Graham ... have worked for almost 40 years to get to a position to invest .... all I want is for my tenants to treat it with the same respect I treat my own home ... unfortunately not always the case especially with pet owners.😢

    Amy LD Amy LD 1:10 pm 09 Oct 19

    Graham Cox I’ve been in the same rental for 4 years and have a dog. I am so appreciative of being able to stay here for so long and have copped the increases on the chin as it just being life. I have paid my landlord over $60,000 in the time that I have been here. I have just purchased an off the plan apartment and I am currently waiting for that to be built. In time it will become an investment property. I am of the belief that I want someone like me to be able to have a fair go in the rental market and be allowed the opportunity to have a pet. However, within the limits of what the apartment can have. You get good tennants and bad ones.

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 7:53 am 10 Oct 19

    Graham Cox renters need to get over entitlement?

    What landlords need to realise is that they are running a small business, that renters are their customers, and the

    At these are very high paying customers (Canberra average is $30,000 a year) and thus ought to be treated with some basic respect.

    Landlords should be grateful that someone is willing to pay them so much money - and honour the commodity exchange by respecting tenants rights. What could be more entitled than taking money but expecting to keep all the rights as well?

    If landlords aren’t willing to respect the rights tenants get in exchange for that $30,000 a year, perhaps they would be better off investing in a different small business, not the business of providing people with homes.

    And thus stop hoarding the commodity and driving up the market which is keeping so many people out of buying their first home.

Astrid Ries Astrid Ries 12:34 pm 09 Oct 19

Ok, now what about single mums with toddlers? I know there’s no law that allows landlords to reject them on the basis that they have a kid, but the discrimination is rife.

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