Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Property

Property is our business
Trusted in Canberra for 40+ years

Good news for property renters in the ACT

Karyn Starmer 1 November 2019 12
Independent managing director Hannah Gill

Independent managing director Hannah Gill. Photo: Supplied.

Big changes to Canberra’s tenancies laws, making it easier to keep pets and make minor modifications to rental properties, come in to effect today. The new laws, designed to help renters make their house a home, were originally scheduled to come into effect in March 2020 but the ACT government recently announced that they will apply to new leases signed on or after 1 November 2019.

Independent managing director Hannah Gill welcomes the changes but is cautious about any unintended consequences.

The changes include limits on rent increases, meaning landlords will only be able to increase rents annually by a prescribed rate of inflation in Canberra plus 10 per cent, unless they apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT).

“This means it is vital for owners to raise the rent incrementally every year,” says Gill. “If landlords keep the rent the same for four years, they can’t then decide that they need to raise it substantially to match the market. Small annual raises will keep rents within market norms without going over the prescribed amount,” Ms Gill said.

She is also concerned that increases in rates, land tax and strata fees may not be covered by the prescribed rate of inflation plus 10 per cent.

“Landlords are being limited by the income they make on their investment; however, their costs continue to rise with rates and taxes. I suspect some investors may be forced to leave the market when their sums do not add up,” Gill said.

The new laws also affect pets. Under the old laws, tenants could only keep pets with permission from the landlord. Now the onus of decision making has changed. The starting position is that tenants are allowed to keep a pet unless the landlord shows a reasonable objection. Landlords can impose conditions including cleaning and maintenance requirements and limits on the type and number of pets allowed through ACAT.

“We very rarely see problems with pets,” Gill says. “A good tenant is usually a good pet owner. They take pride in their home and look after it whether they own an animal or not. We’d much rather know that the pet is there so we can allow for it in our inspection reports and cause less angst for the tenants.”

Ms Gill says if things do go wrong, a number of landlords insurance policies cover pet damage to the inside of properties.

“Landlords will need to make sure they are covered and have the right policy in place,” Gill said.

Tenants will also now have the right to make minor modifications to their rental property, including things like putting up picture hooks, painting walls or putting blinds on a window. However, tenants will have to get permission and pay for any modifications that include physical changes as well as alterations that improve safety, security and energy efficiency or better access to telecommunications. The tenant will be responsible for restoring the property to the same condition at the end of the lease unless otherwise agreed.

“They still need to bring the property back to its original condition at the end of the lease. That’s why it’s important to have a really thorough initial inspection so that everyone has a clear record of the property’s original condition and understands what’s expected in relation to any modifications,” Ms Gill says.

“Routine inspections should also be detailed. That way, there are no arguments at the end of the lease.”

Landlords who do apply to ACAT to have specific conditions on a lease, like no pets or modifications, will need to include them in the advertisement for the property. This means all parties will know what the conditions are before applying, saving both parties time and money if the property and its terms do not suit.

“In the long term, tenants want somewhere they can feel comfortable and at home. And the key objective for an owner is to keep good tenants. Less turn over vacancies mean less wear and tear on the property and are good for both parties. If our tenants make the home a little bit more homely for themselves, they’ll be happier and stay longer,” Ms Gill said.

“If you have any questions about the changes, get in touch with your property manager. It’s their job to understand the legislation and help you stay across your obligations as a landlord or tenant.”

Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, it pays to know your rights and obligations. Visit Independent to learn more.


What's Your Opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
12 Responses to Good news for property renters in the ACT
Acton Acton 4:15 pm 02 Nov 19

Higher ACT Government rates means property owners have to raise rents to cover their costs.
ACT Government rates have increased each year since 2014-15 by between 9 and 13% (source: my rates notices).
9-13%pa is well in excess of inflation and wage indexation.
Increasing rates then results in increasing rents, because property owners have to raise rents to cover their increasing rates costs, which means less affordable housing.
So why do ACT voters keep on voting in a government that raises rates, raises rents and reduces housing affordability?

    noid noid 2:36 pm 03 Nov 19

    The majority of voters don’t, its just that the Greens and Labor join forces which enables them to stay in power. The Libs having received the most amount of first preference votes will not make a deal with the Greens to create a government. Canberra has had a minority government for the last couple of elections.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:05 am 02 Nov 19

The ACT Government keeps focusing on the side issues around renting in Canberra. We have the highest rents in Australia, that should be unacceptable.

High weekly rents cause much more pain to renters than pets and picture hooks.

Time to tackle the exorbitant government taxes and costly red tape for ACT renters.

Jim Hosie Jim Hosie 7:04 am 02 Nov 19

‘limits on the type and number of pets allowed through ACAT.’ 😂😂😂

Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 11:27 pm 01 Nov 19

That's really great news. Now I cannot ask the owner of the rental property that I really do not want dogs next door. The last lot have not cleaned up the dog poo for over 12 months and it stinks and brings in lots of insects. The dogs never got exercised and were bored some much that they destroyed everything in the yard and barked and howled. ☹️

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:07 am 02 Nov 19

    Doesn't the law say that dogs must be exercised daily? If so, report them on that.

    Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 10:27 am 02 Nov 19

    Julie Macklin Please can you give a link to that information as I cannot find anything at all.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:34 am 02 Nov 19

    I have only heard it mentioned in the news. Not having a dog myself I have not invested it further. A quick google found this: https://10daily.com.au/news/australia/a190926rkezd/act-dog-owners-to-be-fined-4000-for-not-walking-their-pets-20190926

    Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 10:50 am 02 Nov 19

    Finally found something: https://www.cmtedd.act.gov.au/open_government/inform/act_government_media_releases/chris-steel-mla-media-releases/2019/australian-first-act-to-recognise-animal-sentience-in-law

    Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 10:55 am 02 Nov 19

    BUT --- Section 6F makes it a strict liability offence not to exercise a dog when a dog is confined, unless reasonable exercise is provided or the confinement is necessary for the dog’s welfare. The defendant has an evidential burden of proof in relation to this offence, for example providing a veterinary certificate that the confinement is necessary. Regard must be had to the dog’s age, physical condition and size in applying this provision. The section also makes it clear that the provision does not apply to keeping a dog in a backyard or a residence such as a house or apartment, unless the dog is stopped from moving freely (for example, tied up to a pole or in a small cage). This ensures that the provision does not mean a person commits an offence if they don’t take their dog for a walk each day. This offence has a maximum penalty of 25 penalty units and an associated infringement notice of $500. This is considered reasonable and proportionate to the nature of the offence, and important in achieving animal welfare objectives.

    NOTE THIS SENTENCE: The section also makes it clear that the provision does not apply to keeping a dog in a backyard or a residence such as a house or apartment, unless the dog is stopped from moving freely (for example, tied up to a pole or in a small cage).

    Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 11:10 am 02 Nov 19

    Reading further: ...Sections 6D and 6E make it a strict liability offence not to provide an animal with a hygienic living environment ...

    Does this mean picking up the poo?

    Robyne Mitchell Robyne Mitchell 11:12 am 02 Nov 19

    And this:

    Section 6F makes it a strict liability offence not to exercise a dog when a dog is confined, .... (for example, tied up to a pole or in a small cage).

    This ensures that the provision does not mean a person commits an offence if they don’t take their dog for a walk each day.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2019 Region Group Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
the-riotact.com | aboutregional.com.au | b2bmagazine.com.au | thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site