Monday, August 20, 2012

The best of both Bills

This week the NSW State Parliament is set to debate independent MP Clover Moore's Residential Tenancies Amendment (Occupancy Agreements) Bill, which would set out broad occupancy principles for all marginal renters not otherwise covered by residential tenancies legislation. The occupancy principles would deal with important matters such as evictions, repairs, bonds, utility charges and penalty terms; and these principles would be given effect in individual occupancy agreements. Disputes would be resolved by the Tribunal, where parties would have access to a wide range of remedies.

Moore's Bill was drafted late last year; now the Government has its own draft Boarding Houses Bill, which would establish a Boarding Houses Register, revamp the licensing regime for licensed boarding houses for people with disability ('residential centers for vulnerable persons')... and set out broad occupancy principles for some – not all – marginal renters (just those living in 'registrable boarding houses'). These occupancy principles would deal with important matters such as evictions, repairs – but not bonds, utility charges and penalty terms; and these principles would not necessarily be given effect in individual occupancy agreements. Disputes would be resolved by the Tribunal, but remedies would be limited – there's no provision in the draft Bill for compensation.

The Parliament – and the people of New South Wales – can and should have the best of both Bills.



The Government should, as we've submitted, amend the draft Boarding Houses Bill – and in particular, amend Chapter 3, which contains all the draft Bill's provisions about occupancy principles.

First, it should provide that Chapter 3 – and only Chapter 3 – applies to all the persons to whom Moore's Bill would apply.

Secondly, it should include in the occupancy principles all of the additional occupancy principles – those about bonds, utilities and penalty terms – from Moore's Bill.

And thirdly, it should make the occupancy principles as effective as those in Moore's Bill, by requiring that they are given effect in individual occupancy agreements and that the usual contractual remedies – including compensation for loss – are available. 

Then we'd have a Boarding Houses Register, a revamped licensing regime for licensed boarding houses, and fair, effective occupancy agreements for all marginal renters.

Oh, that's what law reform dreams are made of.
 

1 comment:

  1. Bill Hagar AND Bill Lee Roth in the one pic! Who'd've thunk it :)

    ReplyDelete

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