Landlords and property managers "misleading" tenants by adding terms to rental agreements including banning pets and parties should face consequences, an advocacy group says.
Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said the ACT was the only jurisdiction which allowed terms inconsistent with those set out in the Residential Tenancies Act to be added to rental agreements.
The Path of Lease Resistance report from Better Renting found agents "routinely" added terms, including daily cleaning of the kitchen, toilet and shower, banning pets and parties and that the owner could sell the property and ask the tenant to vacate with one months' notice.
The report noted those terms were inconsistent with the Standard Residential Tenancy Terms set out in the Residential Tenancies Act.
"The ACT is unique in having the ability for a lessor to add terms that contradict the standard terms," Mr Dignam said.
"The big issue here is that when you have an environment in which real estate agencies are allowed to add additional terms that go beyond what's required of tenants, it then enables those [private] landlords, because tenants don't know what the benchmark is.
"There's now this culture of additional terms which makes it hard for people to know what they're required to do."
Mr Dignam said other jurisdictions had introduced prescribed terms which meant anything added outside of those could not be enforced.
The report recommended the ACT government follow suit and implement a prescribed tenancy agreement.
It also called for penalties to be established for agents or landlords using inconsistent terms or misleading tenants.
The report found private landlords were less likely to adhere to the standard terms and it recommended a landlord register be created which included a requirement for landlords to undertake training of their legal obligations.
"It's a situation where the landlord wants to get all the benefits of renting out a property ... without handing over any of the rights that are meant to be part of that transaction," Mr Dignam said.
More than one-third of Canberrans rent, and Mr Dignam said more people were making a long-term home in the rental sector amid soaring house prices.
"Their ability to do that is even further disrupted by additional terms that can make it harder for them to do the sort of things that they're meant to be entitled to do under the law," he said.
Mr Dignam said those conditions made it easier for landlords and agencies to impose their terms, because renters did not have many alternatives.
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