Greens call for 12-weeks notice for renters on periodic tenancies

Ian Bushnell 10 September 2018 27
Do you think there is some social engineering going on in the ACT housing market?

The Greens believe tenants need a fairer deal in today’s rental market. File photo.

The ACT Greens have called for 12-week notice periods for tenants on month to month tenancies as the availability of affordable rental properties continues to dry up.

Greens housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur says the Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay was due to introduce amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act (1997) by the end of the year and longer notice periods should be on the agenda.

“We’re talking to the Attorney-General about him making amendments which go along these lines, or making amendments ourselves,” she said.

The Residential Tenancies Act (1997) currently provides for three notice periods for termination with cause during a periodic tenancy:

  • Four weeks if the landlord or a relative intend to move in;
  • Eight weeks if the landlord has an intention to sell the property;
  • 12 weeks if the landlord is planning to make major repairs to the property.

But Ms Le Couteur said these should all be 12 weeks, so tenants have sufficient time to find another place to live in the current tight rental market.

“We’re talking here about Canberra renters who, through no fault of their own, might find themselves with a month to find a new place to live,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“This proposal would go some way to providing good renters with a reasonable buffer of time to ensure that they can find a new place to live, if the owner does intend to move in, sell up, or make major repairs.

“Being given a month to find somewhere to live would be stressful for anyone, and all the more so if you have children or pets.”

Ms Le Couteur was also concerned about retaliatory evictions where for example tenants raise maintenance issues and then receive notice from landlords saying they or a relative wish to move in, only to re-let the property.

Recognising that there may be genuine cases, the Greens propose that landlords be required to lodge a statutory declaration with ACAT, providing detail of the name(s) of the new occupant(s) and the reason that a notice period of less than 12 weeks is required.

“If the reason is the landlord just wants to change the tenant then they need to take 12 weeks and give people more of a chance to find somewhere else to live,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“It’s problematical if you want to stay in the same area, because your kids are going to school and you don’t want to become an out-of-area enrolment. You need to stay somewhere where the kids can physically get to school, not find you are moving to somewhere on the other side of town.”

The Green’s proposal follows similar moves in Victoria, which last week passed legislation providing more protections for renters despite a strong pushback from the property industry.

Ms Le Couteur said feedback from the real estate industry in the ACT had been less than positive, but the property landscape had changed dramatically in recent years with high house prices, rising rents and low vacancy rates.

“Where I am coming from is a significant power and convenience imbalance between tenants and landlords,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“We need to protect tenants more because there are just so few vacancies, and the economic power has shifted more and more to the landlord.”

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27 Responses to Greens call for 12-weeks notice for renters on periodic tenancies
ChrisinTurner ChrisinTurner 5:51 pm 13 Sep 18

All excellent especially the StatDec provision.

    Spiral Spiral 7:16 am 14 Sep 18

    Perhaps – If it is done intelligently (so knowing our politicians, probably a really bad idea).

    If the owner is overseas (perhaps working) and is returning unexpectedly, it might be hard for them to get a StatDec that would be acceptable for badly written legislation.

    If the legislation allows the foreign equivalent of StatDecs, or will allow an Australian StatDec form to be witnessed by people who have never been to Australia then it would seem OK. If not, then this proposal will cause problems.

Steve Carbone Steve Carbone 2:38 pm 10 Sep 18

It's fine if this is what they want bond has just gone up to 12 weeks too

    Caroline Le Couteur  former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly Caroline Le Couteur former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly 9:25 pm 11 Sep 18

    Our proposal would not affect your bond - only how quickly the landlord could make you leave.

Eric Anthony Lucas Eric Anthony Lucas 4:59 am 10 Sep 18

3 months notice to move back into your own home? Bad idea.

    Luke Tuppack Luke Tuppack 7:17 am 10 Sep 18

    When you lease a place out to someone it ceases to be your home. That's why landlords receive a rental income.

    Eric Anthony Lucas Eric Anthony Lucas 9:39 am 10 Sep 18

    Luke Tuppack the shorter notice period at present only applies, if you are seeking to move back into your own home.

Susan Westwood Susan Westwood 12:50 am 10 Sep 18

It does’nt solve the shortage of availability of rental properties or length of lease period.

    Caroline Le Couteur  former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly Caroline Le Couteur former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly 2:10 pm 11 Sep 18

    Hi Susan, we’ve been working on a range of measures to help improve the supply and availability of affordable rental housing. This includes two successful motions in the Assembly, one on maintaining the current level of social housing (this has been going backwards over the last two decades), and another to incentivise property investors to rent their properties affordably. Our parliamentary agreement with the ALP also commits the Government to a raft of housing affordability and homelessness measures.

    Susan Westwood Susan Westwood 3:00 pm 11 Sep 18

    Caroline Le Couteur Member for Murrumbidgee yes, thank you for this encouraging message!😊

Shiva Sapkota Shiva Sapkota 8:43 pm 09 Sep 18

I think it’s a good idea as long as owner also gets 12 weeks notice.

    Maddie Blackmore Maddie Blackmore 9:45 am 10 Sep 18

    Why? In the current climate, it's often easier to find a tenant for a reasonably-priced rental property at short notice than it is to find a property to move in to.

    Shiva Sapkota Shiva Sapkota 12:10 pm 10 Sep 18

    Climate could change though. Also, same rule applying to both sides is fair.

    Caroline Le Couteur  former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly Caroline Le Couteur former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly 2:09 pm 11 Sep 18

    Hi Shiva, this proposal is only for periodic tenancies and would not apply during the period of a lease. If property owners want more security, they can offer another lease.

    Ashley Wright Ashley Wright 6:34 pm 11 Sep 18

    If tenants want more security they can always sign up for another lease too. No different really.

Ava Lyons Ava Lyons 6:32 pm 09 Sep 18

I think bringing in more rules for landlords is not a good idea. The more rules, amd regulations, the less people will want to rent out properties.

    Nate Mooré Nate Mooré 7:01 pm 09 Sep 18

    Are most landlords in a position to sit on a property that's not generating income?

    Marc Blackmore Marc Blackmore 8:48 pm 09 Sep 18

    Nathan Cooper no it means less people likely to invest

    Ava Lyons Ava Lyons 9:18 pm 09 Sep 18

    Nathan Cooper less likely to buy an investment to rent out in the first place.

Carolyn Spooner Carolyn Spooner 6:20 pm 09 Sep 18

Bring in the same rules as currently being debated in Victoria and watch the number of rental properties shrink and rents rise.

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 6:56 pm 09 Sep 18

    If the number of rental properties shrinks, it will be because more of them are bought by first home buyers. Which will reduce demand for rentals.

    Sounds good to me.

Marc Blackmore Marc Blackmore 5:10 pm 09 Sep 18

if tenants want a periodic tenancy its because they would like a bit of flexibility, well it has to work both ways, i.e. so they should also give 12 weeks notice if they want to end it!

    Helen McIntosh Carpenter Helen McIntosh Carpenter 5:42 pm 09 Sep 18

    Sounds fair to me, it certainly should go both ways.......

    Chaitanya Shettigara Chaitanya Shettigara 6:41 pm 09 Sep 18

    You assume tenants get a choice in the matter

    Justine Graham Justine Graham 10:08 am 10 Sep 18

    I agree. Or if they want stability just resign the lease!

    Caroline Le Couteur  former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly Caroline Le Couteur former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly 2:08 pm 11 Sep 18

    Hi Anne and Marc, renters aren’t always offered the option of signing another lease. Many renters would like greater stability, not flexibility. These proposed reforms aim to give people a bit of extra time to find somewhere else to live, while still protecting the interests of property owners in instances where they or a family member do need to move in to the property.

    Marc Blackmore Marc Blackmore 2:20 pm 11 Sep 18

    Caroline Le Couteur Member for Murrumbidgee like I said it should work both ways. If renters are signed up for a fixed term, renters already have plenty of notice when it ends, so don’t understand why more notice is required

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