The ACT government is considering banning rent bidding and introducing minimum standards for rental properties, in a move that would increase the rights of tenants.
Community consultation has opened on four proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, which could see rules for renters and landlords tightened.
The ACT government will also push ahead with its commitment to end no-cause evictions, which mean tenants cannot be turfed from properties without a proper reason, asking for community feedback on the plan.
Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said removing no-cause evictions would give tenants certainty, provide greater security and prevent retaliatory evictions.
Mr Rattenbury, the leader of the Greens, said minimum standard regulations could be improved and tenants' rights to grow food and prepare compost should be explored.
"Almost a third of Canberrans rent, so we want to turn rental properties from a house into a real home. We are exploring four reforms to help create a fairer, safer rental system for all Canberrans," Mr Rattenbury said.
Mr Rattenbury said there was currently no restriction on landlords or agents soliciting bids from prospective renters, which can drive up the price.
"This can be particularly problematic in the tight housing market as it increases rents. It is also not transparent, and can waste potential renters' time," he said.
"While there has not been obvious evidence of this practice occurring regularly in the ACT, we want to hear from Canberrans about why and if rent bidding needs to be regulated."
A consultation paper, prepared by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, said the government was considering whether additional options for recourse against landlords whose properties did not meet minimum standards were needed.
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The government was open to a Victorian model, which allows for a tenant to pay into a trust fund until the property they are renting meets minimum standards, the paper said.
The Legislative Assembly passed laws in 2019 which have allowed tenants to have more power to keep pets in rental properties, but amendments introduced by the Greens to mandate minimum standards were defeated.
Housing advocates have long called for minimum standards, with a particular focus on energy efficiency.
Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam in June said many old properties in Canberra weren't able to stay warm in winter, and it was often fruitless to run the heater because of drafts.
"Many renters have known that feeling of cold air blowing through their home in winter, it also means any warm air inside is being replaced by cold air," he said.
Consultation on the proposed changes to tenancy laws is open until September 17.
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Jasper Lindell joined the Times in 2018. He is a Legislative Assembly reporter, covering ACT politics and government. He also writes about development, heritage, local history, literature and the arts, as well as contributing to the Times' Panorama magazine on Saturdays. He was previously a Sunday Canberra Times reporter.
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