9 October 2019

Despite the scaremongering, Greens claim wins for renters rights

| Caroline Le Couteur MLA
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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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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.

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.

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?

How do you know if they are negatively geared?

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.

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.

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