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.