Canberra's real estate industry has hit out at new measures that would make it easier for tenants to terminate a lease if they are affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the move has been welcomed by renters advocacy groups who said it would mean tenants would not be stuck in a tenancy agreement they could not afford.
Changes to the territory's emergency declaration on the residential tenancies act would allow a tenant to give three weeks notice if they wished to terminate a lease. As well, they would not have to put an application through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
This was added to a raft of other measures introduced, which included legislation for rent reductions, a six-month moratorium on evictions and protections to stop rental increases.
Only tenants who had been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are covered under the bill.
The Real Estate Institute of the ACT has claimed landlords would be disadvantaged by the new measures and many would sell their properties as a result.
The real estate institute was disappointed about a lack of transparency from the territory government on the changes to the break lease fees. There was a brief consultation on the changes last week, the institute said.
It was claimed a meeting had been sought with Chief Minister Andrew Barr since the start of the month to discuss industry concerns about changes to government payments and what would happen when the moratorium period ended in October.
Many landlords could not afford discounted rent and could sell their properties as a result, REIACT director Hannah Gill said.
"We will likely see an increase in the number of landlords who will sell their properties to mitigate their losses," she said.
"With the June quarter vacancy rate in Canberra at 1.4 per cent these sales will significant affect tenants who are already impacted from an under supply of affordable rental accommodation."
But Better Renting chief executive Joel Dignam said the changes would mean tenants would not be trapped in a tenancy they can't afford.
He said landlords were in far stronger position than tenants at the beginning of the pandemic.
"The bottom line is if you owned an investment property at the beginning of this crisis you are probably among the wealthiest of Australians," he said.
The territory government's rent reduction scheme reduces land taxes for landlords who agree to a cut in their tenant's rent of at least 25 per cent. Tenant's considered to be financially impacted by the pandemic are those who have had a household income drop of at least 25 per cent.
ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said on Thursday the changes were the result of a recommendation made by the Legislative Assembly's committee into the COVID-19 response.
Both the Real Estate Institute of the ACT and Better Renting have appeared before the committee and Mr Ramsay said the government wanted to give the right level of support to people affected by the pandemic.
"We have been listening very carefully over the past three months to make sure we do have the right level of support for our tenants and the right level of support for our landlords," he said.
"It is a particularly difficult time for people and we want to make sure people aren't simply racking up ongoing debts and are in a position where they are unable to pay them."