More rent protections likely for NT, SA and WA tenants

A suite of renting reforms designed to protect South Australian and Northern Territory tenants is set to pass their respective parliaments.

Western Australia is also seeking to modernise its tenancy laws, with an amendment bill introduced to its parliament that includes restrictions on rent increases and greater freedom for tenants.

NT Attorney-General Chansey Paech introduced the amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act during a busy last sitting week in Darwin on Wednesday.

The reforms would mean landlords would need to give 60 days rather than 14 for end-of-lease evictions, and a ban on rent bidding.

Tenants would also need to give less information on tenancy applications and lease break fees would be outlawed.

The NT government has been reviewing the act since 2018, with criticism mounting that territory tenants still face some of the strictest legislation in Australia.

The NT is the only jurisdiction without an independent bond board.

Mr Paech said the government had not ruled out looking at bond reforms though it is not part of this week’s amendments.

“It’s something we’ve heard from a number of people in the community,” he said on Wednesday.

The NT also joined the SA parliament in pushing for further protections for tenants who are experiencing domestic and family violence.

Tenants in both jurisdictions will not be held liable for damage caused by acts of domestic violence and may terminate a tenancy without a penalty.

In SA, rent bidding has already been outlawed but new reforms are set to pass parliament extending the eviction notice from 28 days to 60 days.

Tenants will also be allowed to have pets and landlords will also only be able to terminate a tenancy for a prescribed reason.

SA Consumer Affairs Minister Andrea Michaels said the amendments were the “biggest reforms in a generation” and strike a balance between tenant security and landlord protection.

In WA, the Cook government on Wednesday introduced a bill to the state parliament to reform tenancy laws.

The legislation aims to boost protection for tenants and increase clarity for landlords.

It includes provisions to streamline bond return and dispute resolution, and restrict rent rises to once per year.

Under the amendments, tenants will be allowed to keep pets at a rental property, with the landlord only able to refuse in certain circumstances.

Tenants will also be allowed to make minor modifications to their rental property, such as installing flyscreens or a vegetable garden.

Landlords will also be banned from encouraging rent bidding by advertising rents in price ranges or asking for offers. They will instead have to state a fixed rent amount.

Commerce Minister Sue Ellery said prohibiting rent bidding and reducing rent increases to once a year would help ease the financial burden on many families struggling in the housing crisis.

“The reforms will allow tenants to make the rental their home by having pets and by making minor modifications to the property,” she said.


Neve Brissenden
(Australian Associated Press)


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