ACT Greens: A fairer deal for Canberra renters

Caroline Le Couteur, MLA

The Greens are today calling for increased notice periods for tenants who, through no fault of their own, might find themselves with a matter of weeks to find new place to live.

The Residential Tenancies Act (1997) currently provides for three notice periods for termination with cause during a periodic tenancy:

  • four weeks if the landlord or a relative intend to move in;
  • eight weeks if the landlord has an intention to sell the property;
  • twelve weeks if the landlord is planning to make major repairs to the property. (Note:  this does not apply during a fixed-term tenancy).

The Greens are calling for these three notice periods to be set at twelve weeks in each case.

“We’re talking here about Canberra renters who, through no fault of their own, might find themselves with a month to find a new place to live,” Caroline Le Couteur, Greens Housing spokesperson said today.

“This proposal would go some way to providing good renters with a reasonable buffer of time to ensure that they can find a new place to live, if the owner does intend to move in, sell up, or make major repairs. 

“Being given a month to find somewhere to live would be stressful for anyone, and all the more so if you have children or pets.

With a vacancy rate well in Canberra that’s well below the national average, and rising rents, our city’s housing sector is in crisis—making it even more difficult to find a place to live.”

Taking action against ‘retaliatory evictions’

The Greens proposal would ensure that landlords that intend to move in must apply for an exemption if they believe only four weeks’ notice is required.

“The Greens are troubled to hear of cases of ‘retaliatory evictions’: where good tenants who’ve requested that reasonable repairs or maintenance happen, only to have their landlord terminate their lease with four weeks’ notice under the auspices of the landlord or a distant relative ‘moving in’,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“We are concerned to hear that, in some cases, this never eventuates—leaving good tenants without a place to live, simply for requesting basic maintenance and upkeep.”

If a landlord does wish to terminate a lease because they intend to move in, the Greens propose that landlords be required to lodge a statutory declaration with ACAT, providing detail of the name(s) of the new occupant(s) and the reason that a notice period of less than 12 weeks is required.