The ACT government has announced a tenancy mediation service will be set up to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords due to COVID-19.
It came after calls for such a service following the introduction of measures aimed at protecting renters.
One of those measures, was that landlords in the ACT who reduce the rents of tenants by at least 25 per cent for six months can receive land tax rebates.
The maximum rebate amount is $100 a week, to access this landlords would need to reduce their tenant's rent by $200 a week.
This would only apply to tenants who had been financially impacted by COVID-19 and tenants would be required to approach their landlord to ask for the reduction.
The mediation service would deal with matters where the parties could not come to an agreement.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the Canberra-based Conflict Resolution Service would operate the mediation.
"Conversations about money or about a person's home or their long-term investments are not always easy," Mr Ramsay said.
"The Conflict Resolution Service is a long-standing, trusted provider of mediation services in our community and has a panel of qualified mediators that they can draw upon.
"I am confident that they can provide restorative, impartial support to both landlords and tenants to deal with the difficult issues COVID-19 has caused for our community."
The ACT government would work with the Conflict Resolution Service to get the running "as soon as possible".
The Legislative Assembly committee into the government's response to COVID-19 heard landlords were reluctant to sign up to the rent reduction scheme. One advocacy group claimed landlords had asked tenants if they had cancelled their Netflix subscriptions before approaching them for help.
At that hearing two weeks ago, fewer than 100 landlords had signed up to the scheme. But Chief Minister Andrew Barr told a hearing last Friday that figure had more than doubled, with 203 landlords signed up as of May 1.
ACT Greens housing spokeswoman Caroline Le Couteur welcomed the announcement of the mediation service.
This is a huge win for Canberra renters, and a win for 'people power'," she said.
"The Prime Minister recently called on renters struggling during this pandemic to just 'work it out' with their landlords. But there is often already a power imbalance between tenants and landlords that, for some, will only be exacerbated during this crisis."
The ACT government had previously announced a mediation process for commercial landlords and tenants.
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