The ACT government is reviewing the rights of landlords to throw tenants out, as part of a sweeping review of rules covering rentals.
It is considering making smoke alarms compulsory in rented houses and is seeking views on who should be responsible for maintaining them, such as changing the batteries.
The government is also considering how to deal with anti-social public housing tenants and considering whether it should have the power to move public housing tenants into smaller houses when they no longer need extra bedrooms.
It is seeking views on these and other questions by September 12. In a discussion paper, it sets out some of the things being considered.
One issue is whether tenants are properly protected from wrongful or "retaliatory" evictions.
At the moment, landlords don't need any reason to evict tenants if they give 26 weeks notice, but the discussion paper asks whether there should be remedies for tenants who are given notice because they tried to assert their rights by complaining about the landlord or seeking legal advice.
It also asks whether there should be relief for tenants who are thrown out with just four weeks notice on the grounds the landlord intended to move in but the landlord never actually had the intention.
It asks whether water efficiency should be promoted through measures such as maximum flow rates for taps and showers and rules on leaking taps.
It is considering that smoke alarms be a requirement, and it points to Western Australia where there are minimum security standards for doors, windows and outside lights.
The discussion papers points out that Canberra's rents are high. It says 40 per cent of the 168,000 Commonwealth public servants are in Canberra, guaranteeing high demand for rentals. About 30,000 students provide a transient element.
Twenty-three percent of Canberra households rent privately, and just over half of them have middle to high incomes. As a result, low income earners may have trouble finding a rental home and be less able to assert their rights, or end up as sub-tenants or in boarding houses. The discussion paper asks how their situation can be improved.
The government also wants to know what should be included in standard rental agreements and what extra deals landlords and tenants should be able to make with each other without going to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal for approval.
At the moment, they can make deals on issues such as smoking, pets and maintenance.
It is looking at how landlords recoup money owing in shared houses when, for example, one tenant moves out and another takes their place without signing a lease. And how to solve arguments over bonds.
Another question is what happens when someone is barred from a rental house through an apprehended violence order, a protection order or similar, but is still technically liable for rent, or leaves the remaining tenant having to pay rent they might not be able to afford by themselves.
In a separate discussion paper, the government looks at the rights of public housing tenants. Just over 7 per cent of households are in public housing.
It asks whether authorities should be more flexible in dealing with tenants who get behind in their rent. It asks whether tenants should be allowed to make alterations to public houses to improve sustainability and energy use.
It says a number of public housing tenants live in bigger homes than they need after children have moved out, and asks whether the commissioner should have the power to force them to move to a smaller house.
It also points out that while the commissioner can end a tenancy when someone earns enough money to get a private rental, the decision is reviewable by the Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but the tribunal doesn't have the power to evict.
It asks whether the ACT needs new rules for dealing with anti-social tenants who disturb the neighbourhood, pointing out that other jurisdictions require tenants to sign acceptable behaviour agreements.
Two public forums will be held on the proposals: on September 1 at the Southern Cross Club, and September 5 at the community legal hub in Turner.