ACT tenants should be allowed to make minor changes: Greens

The third of Canberrans living in rental properties should be allowed to make minor changes, such as putting up picture frames, without the written consent of the landlord, the ACT Greens have urged.

Ahead of the next round of reforms to the territory's Residential Tenancies Act expected in the next sittings fortnight, Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur has called for the changes to help tenants make their properties more homely.

Canberra renters should be allowed to make minor alterations without written landlord consent, the Greens argue. Photo: Rob Homer

Canberra renters should be allowed to make minor alterations without written landlord consent, the Greens argue. Photo: Rob Homer

But, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in July estimated 2600 Australians need hospital treatment due to toppling furniture and televisions each year, Ms Le Couteur also argues the minor changes proposed could also help keep tenants safer.

She said the vast majority of tenants did the right thing, and as long as any fixtures or fittings were removed at the end of the tenancy, and damage is rectified, then tenants should not need written permission from their landlord for making minor changes.

The proposal is likely to be supported by tenants advocates in Canberra, though such groups have been vocal saying a more holistic approach to tenancy reforms is needed, given an apparent piecemeal approach and the fact key changes have not been made four years since a review of the laws began.

The Greens' proposal would see amendments to sections 67 and 68 of the Act that would allow minor alterations to be made to a property without written consent, including hanging picture frames, painting, putting up shelves and anchoring furniture to walls.

“This is all part of making a house a home," she said.

“The Greens are committed to ensuring there’s a reasonable balance between the rights of landlords
and the rights of tenants, particularly at a time of housing crisis.”

Asked why, given few official opportunities for Ms Le Couteur to put motions and lodge private members bills, she did not opt to put forward more holistic reforms to the Act earlier in this term, she said she was expecting Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay to introduce changes soon.

“The Greens do have a range of concerns with gaps in the Residential Tenancies’ Act, which the community regularly tell us about," she said.

Ms Le Couter said once the Greens saw exactly what the government was proposing, they may seek to make amendments to government legislation, rather than propose their own.