ACT landlords may soon have to provide references to tenants, but is that a step too far?


Experts are questioning a proposed motion in the ACT that would give the tenant the power to request a reference from their landlord.

ACT Labor MLA Michael Pettersson fronts the proposal, saying the idea would help ensure that renters in Canberra know the history and background of their prospective landlord.

“I’m a renter myself and I would like the ability to provide information to future tenants about my experience with the landlord,” he said in a radio interview on ABC’s RN Breakfast.

“Tenants don’t know anything about their landlord and, importantly, they don’t know anything about their treatment of previous tenants — it’s unfair.”

The proposal will be presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly, which referenced the viral TikTok video (see below) made by comedian Tom Cashman who talked about his experience asking for a landlord reference.

But Turner Real Estate CEO Emma Slape said any agreement between any parties should already allow them to ask appropriate questions to ensure that they are satisfied with the proposed agreement.

“However, to insist on it by law is one step too far and puts yet another barrier up for property investment when the rental market Australia wide is already stretched to capacity,” she told Your Investment Property.

“A more sensible approach is for tenants to ask questions of the landlord and the agent, as they already do in the current market, and respect that tenants all have different needs and priorities when letting a property.”

What rental reforms should focus on co-founder Ben Pretty said while the TikTok video has raised a much-needed awareness about the issues facing renters, it is hard to see whether legislating a landlord reference would be “practical and positive”.

“When addressing legislative changes, perhaps it would be more beneficial to have a more holistic view of what renters are currently faced with – for example, the biggest issue at this point in time is the unjustified 20-30% increases in rent making it unaffordable for renters to access stable and safe housing,” he told Your Investment Property.

Mr Pretty said the government needs to place an actual percentage increase figure as opposed to legislation which allows increases as long as there is some sort of methodology involved, which he said is far too vague.

“The vast majority of renters are telling us they would like to see is a maximum increase percentage legislated to negate unjustified and significant rental increases,” he said.

Mr Pretty said these other issues facing renters also need addressing by the government:

  • More legalisation to protect renters when it comes to timely resolving of repair issues
  • Mandating of information declarations prior to renting such as black mould
  • Introduction of regulations around pet friendly ownership within rentals

Photo by @vantaymedia on Unsplas

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