ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: ACTCOSS welcomes tenancy protections consultation

6 August 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the discussion paper on residential tenancy reforms released today by the ACT Government.

ACTCOSS has been calling on the ACT Government to strengthen the ACT’s Residential Tenancy Act 1997 to provide increased protections for renters.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Given the ACT’s acute housing crisis we are seeing rents skyrocket and historically low vacancy rates.

“This is putting private renters at risk of exploitation through no-cause evictions and unfair practices when letting properties.

“We also welcome proposed minimum standards that relate to accessibility, amenity, security and sanitation.  

“Too often we hear of private rental properties in poor repair, but the insecure nature of tenancies and the vulnerability of tenants means that tenants are not able to hold landlords to account and ensure that properties are well maintained.

“It is also important to ensure that tenants can easily rely on this legislation for protections without incurring significant legal costs or risk reprisal through rent increases or eviction.

ACTCOSS also called for close consultation with community housing providers, including domestic violence services.

“While ACTCOSS welcomes this legislation, the ACT Government must ensure that these changes do not place unreasonable burdens and constraints on community sector organisations providing short and long-term accommodation to Canberra’s most vulnerable including women and children escaping domestic violence,” Dr Campbell said.

ACTCOSS has also been calling on the ACT Government to introduce legislation for minimum energy performance requirements for rental properties.

Dr Campbell said: “We note in this consultation paper that the ACT Government is developing legislation to introduce minimum standards in relation to energy efficiency and has started consultations. We welcome this.

“More than one third of the ACT region’s residents (36%) live in homes that perform poorly in heatwaves, and low-income households in the ACT spend a greater proportion of their income on energy than the average household.

“We need to ensure that low-income renters have well insulated and efficient homes so that they are not forced into energy poverty through high energy bills,” said Dr Campbell.

Access the consultation on improving ACT residential tenancy laws here.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617 or 02 6202 7200.