Thursday, June 23, 2016

Residential Tenancies Act in review - positive change, and more of the same...

Today the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, the Hon. Victor Dominello MP, tabled a report in Parliament outlining the findings and recommendations of the statutory review of the Residential Tenancies Act.

On the floor of parliament today - the review of the Act sees the light of day
It's a bit of a mixed bag, but it contains no big surprises. There are 27 recommendations - some specific, some broad, and some suggesting there's more work to do before reform options can be put forward. Disappointingly, these reflect some of the most important issues - security of tenure, and the coverage of the Act for people living in shared rental housing.

On the other hand, the report recommends a suite of changes that would make it easier for victims of domestic violence to leave a co-tenancy, and ensure they cannot be held liable for damage caused by a violent co-tenant. For this, the authors of the report should be congratulated.

Of the remaining recommendations, most could be described as positive - sensible, even - but there are a couple in there that we might prefer disappeared quietly.

There is no indication of how and when the report's recommendations will be progressed.

We'll start getting into the detail of it as soon as we can. In the meantime, we extract the key part of the report's executive summary:
The major area where amendment is needed is in relation to the protections in the Act for victims of domestic violence. The review recommends a number of amendments to make it easier for victims to either leave a violent home or end the tenancy of a violent co-tenant without financial penalty, and to avoid being penalised for damage caused by domestic violence. 
The review also explores the issues of security of tenure and protections for occupants of share households. These issues featured heavily in submissions from tenants' advocates and the review recommends further work on these topics. 
The review also recommends minor amendments in the areas of:
  • pre-tenancy disclosure requirements
  • condition reports
  • interest paid on bonds
  • Rental Bonds Online
  • water and utility charges
  • repairs
  • alterations
  • break fees
  • tenancy databases and
  • electronic service of notices and signatures
For a copy of the full report, see here.

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