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Is this termination notice valid? (ACT)

This fact sheet will deal with the requirements for a termination notice to be valid under ACT tenancy law. Both tenants and landlords can issue termination notices, but this overview focuses on those issued by landlords. Further, this fact sheet will not deal with terminations that are based on a breach of the agreement by either tenants or landlords. Our focus is on ‘no fault’ terminations. You can read more about how this category of termination functions around Australia here.

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Is this rent increase notice valid? (ACT)

A notice is basically a formal communication relating to the tenancy agreement. A landlord may give you notice for a whole number of things, such as a notice to conduct an inspection. This fact sheet will deal with the specific requirements of a notice to increase the rent in the ACT. This information only applies if you are in a periodic tenancy agreement and not if you are entering a new fixed term lease. 

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Cold and costly: Renter Researchers' experiences of Winter 22

From June 13 to July 31 2022, Better Renting tracked temperature and humidity in 70+ rental homes around Australia. Our findings are summarised in our report Cold and costly: Renter Researchers' experiences of Winter 22.

You can download the report in pdf or docx format. The PDF is also embedded below.

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How to get your bond back in the ACT

This fact sheet will clarify the idea of "fair wear and tear" and help you to get your bond back. Many tenants can feel anxious near the end of your lease because your landlord may try to make a claim on your bond. Actually, the law in the ACT says that certain damage is okay - as long as it is "fair wear and tear", and your landlord cannot make a bond claim for this sort of damage. But the legislation is not super helpful when trying to figure out what this really means! This is where we come in.

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an image with someone's experience of a cold rental home

How do you sleep at night?

With rental homes so cold, it's a reasonable question. We're joining with Healthy Homes for Renters to support people who rent to share our stories of what we have to do to cope with our crappy cold homes. 

You can learn more about the project and share your own story on the Healthy Homes for Renters website: https://www.healthyhomes.org.au/howdoyousleepatnight

Enough lies from the real estate lobby

It seems like every time anyone proposes doing anything to make things the slightest bit for renters, the real estate lobby comes out opposing the proposal — not because it would reduce landlord profits, no, but because it would lead to higher rents. For example:

"So, every time you take away a right that a property owner has...well, then all that will simply mean is fewer investors in the market and rents are going to go up, it's simple maths."

This is an absurd argument. In this post we'll try to take it down once and for all. In turn, we'll discuss:

  • Why the fear-mongering about high rents is disguised self-interest,
  • Why 'cost pass through' is not a real threat,
  • The evidence that rental reform doesn't discourage investment, &
  • The evidence that divestment won't reduce housing supply.
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Some notes on the 2016 Census

We are looking forward to the release of the 2021 Census results, which should be happening next week. In anticipation of those results, we thought we'd take a bit of a look at some data from the most recent census. When the latest census data comes out, it will be interesting to see what changes have happened. Key areas we are interested in are mobility in rental households, and changes in household composition.

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Hot homes: Renter Researchers' experiences of summer 21-22

Through the summer of 21/22, Better Renting observed renters' experiences of heat in their homes. We recruited fifty ‘Renter Researchers’ from across Australia to install temperature tracking devices in their bedrooms. Unlike a mere thermometer, these devices record temperature at intervals, creating a detailed record of the temperature changes and patterns observed in rental homes. In addition, we obtained qualitative data from Researchers, through surveys and interviews, helping us to understand observed temperature patterns and gain an insight into the human impact of high indoor temperatures.

You can download the report here in PDF format and here in DOCX format.

Submission on ACT minimum energy efficiency standards

The ACT Government is looking to implement minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties. In November 2021 they published a Regulatory Impact Statement and Consultation paper (available here).

Better Renting made a submission to this process. The Better Renting submission is available here.

Submission on ACT rental reform

The ACT Government recently called for submissions regarding proposed changes to ACT tenancy laws, including ending no cause evictions.

Better Renting made a submission drawing on our experience and consultation with local renters. The submission is available here.

Better Renting response to ACT Consultation Paper

Today the ACT Government has published a RIS and a Consultation Paper on Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for rental properties. The government considered a few approaches to specifying minimum standards, and the paper proposes an insulation standard such that rental homes with less than R2 ceiling insulation are required to install or upgrade to a minimum of R5.

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Who should pay for a forced move?

When a landlord kicks a tenant out even though the tenant is doing nothing wrong, who should bear the costs of the move?

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Home is where the heart is: Housing and heart health

There's plenty of evidence that the physical state of housing has implications for physical and mental health: if your home is too cold in winter, or is falling apart around you, it's bad for your health. But, perhaps surprisingly, recent research is finding linkages between health and other aspects of housing — such as affordability

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The sick season: cold weather and mortality in South Australia

Does South Australia have a pattern of increased monthly mortality during colder weather? We analysed monthly death statistics and average monthly temperature data and observed that the months July to October show an above average number of monthly deaths. This pattern is typical of countries with low-quality housing stock that offers inadequate protection during cooler months. Improving household energy efficiency would likely reduce excess winter deaths.

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Renting with pets in Queensland

We hear from lots of people interested in renting with pets. And it's no surprise: most Australian households have pets, and with more people renting long-term, more of us want the opportunity to have pets in a rental home.

If you rent in Queensland, here are answers to some common questions about renting with pets.

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Discussing unhealthy mould with ABC Canberra

We spoke with ABC Canberra about the issue of mould in rental properties.

Cold, mould, and damp are present in a lot of Australian homes, and they can have serious health effects. 

These issues can be addressed through minimum standards for rental properties, including ventilation, and stronger regulation.

If you want to see healthier, decent rental homes, please sign our campaign petition for Healthy Homes for Renters.

The Path of Lease Resistance

The ACT is the only jurisdiction in Australia that allows landlords to contract out of their legal obligations, according to a new report out today from tenant advocacy group Better Renting.

The report, The Path of Lease Resistance, highlights that ACT law allows landlords to add terms to a lease even if the terms are inconsistent with the standard terms of a tenancy. It finds that this mechanism is poorly understood and often abused, which means that some renters miss out on legal protections. In one example in the report, an additional term might specify that a tenant is responsible for replacing broken glass, even where this would otherwise be the lessor’s responsibility.

You can download the report here in pdf format.

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Better Renting Impact Report 2018-2020

Better Renting was officially registered on 5 April 2018. Over the last three years, we're proud to have worked with renters to take a stand on the issues that affect us and contribute to changing the conversation and the laws around renting, across Australia. Our 2018-2020 Impact Report commemorates and celebrates everything our community has achieved over this time.

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Better Renting on ABC Tasmania

On Thursday 19 March 2021, Better Renting Executive Director Joel Dignam spoke with ABC Tasmania to refute false arguments against rental reform.

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'Til debt do us part: a fair solution to prevent Covid evictions

As eviction moratoriums are lifted across Australia, hundreds of thousands of renters could lose their homes in a wave of ‘Covid evictions’.

Covid-19 caused a very uneven recession. Low-income households and people in insecure work faced worse impacts than others. In addition, they had less financial resilience to begin with. Many of these people rent their homes.

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Report: "Pet peeves: how landlords are denying renters the benefits of pets"

As the numbers of renters in Australia has grown, so too has the push for changes to rental laws, including around pets. This report considers the current situation for renters in Australia, reviewing data on the situation facing renters with or without pets, and the possible implications for renters and lessors. We find that 44% of renter households have pets but only 8% of SA rental properties explicitly welcome pets. In addition, we identify significant variation across different agencies, suggesting that landlord preferences are not a determining factor.

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Out of the woods? How the QLD Government failed renters during Covid-19

The Queensland (QLD) Government recently decided to end protections that it had provided to renters for Covid-19. This is a bold move considering that the pandemic and its fallout are far from over. As the threat of Covid-19 emerged, community organisations from across Australia called for urgent action from Australian governments to protect renters, proposing five measures for state and territory governments to implement. This report evaluates the QLD Government’s pandemic response against those measures, and it considers what the future holds for Queensland renters.

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Let down: how has the ACT Government supported renters during COVDI-19?

A recent national statement by community organisations from across Australia called for urgent action from Australian governments to protect renters during this crisis, proposing five measures for state and territory governments to implement. This report evaluates the ACT Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic against those measures. Despite some positive steps, the ACT Government is failing to provide renters with secure homes during a worldwide pandemic in which housing is a primary defence against the spread of infection.

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Rent due: renting and stress during COVID-19

In May-June 2020, Better Renting surveyed almost 1000 renters across Australia to ask about their experiences of renting during COVID-19.

  • Over three in five renters (63%) reported losing household income due to the coronavirus crisis.
  • Of renters who lost income, only one in two (50%) asked for a rent reduction.
  • Of renters who lost income, less than one in ten (9%) got a satisfactory rent reduction.
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Blower Door Home Visit

Jon is an architecture student who rents in Canberra. As part of ‘Home Truths’, Better Renting worked with Jon and his housemates to measure the air leakage of his home and implement quick, cheap, and easy improvements. In this post, Jon reflects on the experience.

I’m a renter in a period of rising electricity costs and increased awareness of the value of living sustainably. So it’s often frustrating to know that it’s my landlord who controls the factors that influence how much heating or cooling my home needs.

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Where did things stand before coronavirus?

By Joel Dignam, Executive Director, Better Renting.

Coronavirus has changed everything for renters and landlords. In a matter of weeks, a huge number of people have lost work. Renters were particularly affected, as they were more likely to be in insecure employment. Property investors had to face the possibility that their reliable income stream, derived from the waged labour of renters, might be drying up. 

In a number of blog posts, I hope to consider the immediate government response but also what we need to see in the medium and longer-term. But as context, this post is a foreword of sorts, considering where renters and the property market stood before the onset of coronavirus.

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Stop evictions to limit coronavirus: Better Renting

Better Renting is calling on state and territory governments to protect public health and stop evictions during the COVID19 pandemic.

Better Renting Executive Director, Joel Dignam, said that the unprecedented situation meant new measures were needed to help renters keep their homes.

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Report: "Home-Baked: Housing, Heat, and Health"

Renters are four times more likely than homeowners to struggle with the summer heat, according to a new report from tenant organisation Better Renting.

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Submission: Share House Reform in ACT

The ACT Government recently proposed a Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2019 (No 2) including changes to occupancy agreements and share housing. 

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Submission: Queensland Better Renting Futures

Better Renting made a submission regarding Queensland's proposed updates to rental legislation.

The submission covered:

  • Minimum housing standards,
  • Renting with pets,
  • Ending tenancies fairly, 
  • Minor modifications, and
  • Domestic and family violence.

You can download the submission in pdf or word document format.

Submission: Victorian Rental Regulations

Better Renting made a submission regarding Victoria's proposed Residential Tenancies Regulations 2020.

The submission responded primarily to minimum standards for rental housing, and also proposed prescribed questions in the application process.

You can download the submission in pdf or word document format. 

Queensland does the minimum on rental standards

When it comes to standards for rental properties, it safe to say that the Queensland Government proposes to do the minimum. This is in contrast to their leadership on ending unfair evictions.

Before we get into the detail of what is proposed and what is lacking, let’s pause and understand why minimum standards matter.

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Queensland pet reforms leave renters at risk

Ah, pets! That most heartfelt of topics for both renters and landlords alike. For renters, reform would make it easier to feel at home, to stay healthy, and to keep beloved pets as pet of the family. For some landlords, reform would make it harder to arbitrarily exploit their privileged position to impose their prejudices on the less fortunate.

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Queensland the real MVP on unfair evictions

Currently, unfair evictions keep many renters on edge. All over Australia, people who rent worry about requesting repairs or exercising their rights because they are worried about getting a notice in the mail saying that they’re going to have to move out - with no justification provided.

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Pet Hates: Lessor Pet Sentiment and the 'Agent Effect'

People who rent and own pets must overcome hurdles to securing housing. Many properties prohibit pets, and pet owners may be at a competitive disadvantage even when applying for properties that putatively accept pets. With new rental laws around pet ownership coming into effect in the ACT, we analysed the sentiment towards pet ownership from twelve months of rental advertisements from the territory. Our analysis demonstrates the opacity of the rental market for 
people who rent with pets, as well as a notable ‘agent effect’, suggesting that anti-pet positions in rental advertisements do not necessarily reflect lessor preferences.

You can download the full report here.

Media release: Better Renting welcomes ACT Government commitment to minimum energy performance requirements for rental properties

Renter organisation Better Renting has welcomed the new ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25, released today, which includes a commitment to minimum energy performance requirements for rental properties.

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Kat's Story Part 2: "I'm almost in pain from the cold all the time."

This is Kat's Story Part 2. Click here to read Kat's Story Part 1: "This is the coldest house I’ve ever lived in."

I ask Kat what it's been like to live here in winter. She describes a life organised around efforts to keep warm.

"I'm almost in pain from the cold all the time."

"When my hands are really cold, I can't turn things on. I'm always worried I might cut myself or something because I lose a bit of feeling in my hands when it’s that cold."

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Kat's Story Part 1: "This is the coldest house I’ve ever lived in."

Story and illustration by Anna Dennis, Home Truths Coordinator.

Sitting with me in front of two electric heaters, Kat tells me, "I’m cold all the time."

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Kat's Story Part 3: her landlord might get annoyed

This is Kat's Story Part 3. Click here to read Part 1, or Part 2.

Kat wonders whether it would even be legal to expect people to live like this in other parts of the world. In Europe, she says, "it would be unbelievable to have a house like this without double or even triple glazing, even in old buildings. You have rights."

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Kat's Story Part 4: making a house a home

This is Kat's Story Part 4. Click here to read Part 1, Part 2,or Part 3.

I catch up with Kat a couple of weeks later. After my visit, she finished all the projects we started and used all the DIY materials I left her with. She even went out and bought more materials from Bunnings to make sure all the gaps and draughts in her house were sealed up.

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Submission to South Australia Housing Strategy

In our submission to the Housing and Homelessness Strategy for South Australia we argued for improvements to rental conditions in order to improve housing outcomes for people who rent their homes. 

You can download our submission in pdf or word document format.

Submission re: Low Energy Existing Homes

Better Renting made a submission to the Department of Environment and Energy regarding their draft "Report for achieving low energy existing homes".

Our submission can be downloaded in pdf or docx format.

Unsafe as Houses: Cold-housing deaths in the ACT

This report estimates the annual number of cold-related deaths in the ACT caused by low-quality housing. By comparing temperature data with statistics on monthly deaths for the period 2009-17, we estimate annual cold-related mortality at 140 deaths, based on current population. Conservatively, we attribute 30% of these deaths to cold housing, indicating that 42 cold weather deaths are linked to cold housing in particular. The people most affected are low-income renters aged 65 and above.

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Baby it’s Cold Inside: Energy Efficiency Ratings in the ACT

Rental properties are almost ten times more likely than properties for sale to have the minimum energy efficiency rating, according to a new report from advocacy organisation Better Renting.

The report reviewed over 19,000 real estate advertisements and found that over two in five rental property energy efficiency ratings were 0, compared to less than one in twenty ratings for properties for sale. The report builds upon a similar analysis conducted by Better Renting in April of 2018, which reviewed a smaller number of advertisements.

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Winter Energy Efficiency Guide for Renters

Through Home Truths, Better Renting has released an "Energy Efficiency Guide for Renters" We are launching this guide in draft form, in response to growing demand from a community of renters looking to improve their comfort and warmth at home this winter.

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Tenant Talks Report

Today Better Renting is launching our 'Tenant Talks' report, which uses renters' own words to highlight the challenges facing Canberra renters and the need for further changes to ACT rental laws.

The report is made up of quotes from Canberra renters commenting on the topics of stability, affordability, and liveability. Feedback from renters was recorded from a series of ‘Tenant Talks’ events held last year in renters’ homes, in a model adapted from the Victorian Women’s Trust.

The report includes what renters like about renting, such as “flexibility”, “community”, and “lifestyle”, while also discussing challenges facing renters. In the report, renters describe challenges with insecurity, expensive housing, and low-quality homes “like swiss cheese”, that make them sick in winter.

The report can be downloaded here.

Introducing: 'Home Truths'

People who rent deserve homes which are comfortable, healthy and affordable.

Everyone should easily be able to heat their homes in winter and cool them in summer. We all deserve a comfortable, safe haven to come home to at the end of the day.

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The Rub on Unfair Evictions

“Unfair evictions” are in the crosshairs all over Australia. The Victorian government has restricted them. NSW Labor has committed to banning them. In SA, ACT, and Queensland, there are moves to end the practice.

With this going on, it’s worth taking the time to understand what “unfair evictions” are and the other ways in which a tenancy can end. Lo and behold, this handy flowchart: your basic guide to how leases end in Australia.

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Response to Mark Parton MLA

Better Renting is a not-for-profit registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. All of our advocacy is done in pursuit of our aims, and we do not support any political party.

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