Improving renters’ rights in share houses and occupancy agreements

Australian Greens

Tenants have a greater assurance of their rights in share houses and occupancy agreements under a set of new reforms that came into effect this week.

The reforms, recommended by the 2016 review into the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, clarify and modernise the legal framework for tenants living in share housing and improve the protections for those living under occupancy agreements.

“Share housing is a highly flexible, and sometimes informal arrangement, so we need laws that reflect that,” Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said.

“Under these reforms, there’s more certainty about your rights and responsibilities when changing how a shared tenancy is set up. It will remove headaches like terminating and remaking a tenancy agreement when your housemates change, or having some people not on the lease, making them sub-tenants of those on the lease.

“The process of managing the bond for a share house is also streamlined, where the money can be transferred directly between tenants when arrangements change.

“No fees are chargeable for changing who your co-tenants are.”

The reforms also improve conditions for Canberrans who live in shared accommodation under an occupancy agreement, like boarding houses, university student accommodation or crisis accommodation.

“The new laws establish minimum protections, so that occupants are protected against unreasonable evictions,” Attorney-General Rattenbury said.

“The reforms also create a new optional pathway for occupants to be able to take an occupancy dispute to the Human Rights Commission for conciliation to provide a structured dispute resolution process.”

A range of resources including fact sheets and the Standard Residential Tenancy Terms that come into effect on 3 March 2021 are available at https://justice.act.gov.au/renting-and-occupancy-laws/reforms-tenancy-and-occupancy-laws.

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