Rental reforms are a small positive step

Tenant organisation Better Renting has welcomed proposed changes to ACT renting laws and questioned the motives of opponents.

Better Renting is part of the Make Renting Fair CBR Alliance, which has been campaigning for an end to “unfair evictions”, a fairer system for rent increases, and minimum standards for rental properties. They say that proposed rental reforms – introduced in the ACT Assembly on Thursday 1 November – are a good first step.

 “The new laws are a small step, but they go in the right direction. These are sensible, fair changes that bring a bit of balance back to renting,” said Better Renting Executive Director, Joel Dignam. “Finally, renters are getting some of the same rights as homeowners – like the right to make a house a home, or to own a pet.”

“However, it’s disappointing that Minister Ramsay has failed to act on unfair evictions. Landlords can still terminate a lease without having to provide any reason – which enables retaliatory evictions. This undermines the value of otherwise positive changes around rent increases and pet ownership. Abolishing this archaic law would go a long way to ensure renters can have stable homes.”

“It’s also a disappointing that Minister Ramsay has done nothing to require landlords to improve the energy efficiency of rental properties. Canberra’s renters now have to stare down the barrel of another sweltering summer and another freezing winter while living in uninsulated crapshacks. Every month the government fails to act on this issue is costing renters money and endangering their health.”

Regarding criticism of the reforms, Mr. Dignam was sceptical of the motives of the property industry.

“It’s remarkable to hear that some property managers oppose these changes because they argue that rents could go up. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand that property managers don’t care when rents go up. These arguments are self-interest disguised as altruism.”

“All over the world, we see thriving rental sectors in countries with strong rights for renters – including small-scale landlords. Making renting fair will make renting more appealing and support a higher-quality rental sector.”