Renting in Canberra? As a result of new changes to tenancy law, you could face paying up to six weeks’ of rent if you break your lease early.

act tenants
Tenants Union ACT says the changes are to help create certainty for renters and landlords. Photo: Pixabay/alexas_fotos.

A year after reforms passed the legislative assembly, several changes to the ACT’s tenancy laws have come into effect.

The changes could affect contracts Canberra’s renters currently have with their landlords.

The new opt-in clause for ACT tenants

Among the changes in force for all new tenancy agreements is a new ‘opt-in’ clause for lease breaking.

The clause will see Canberra renters pay six weeks’ rent if their lease is less than three years in length and they break the lease less than one and a half years into it.

As a renter in Canberra, if you break your lease more than halfway into a three-year lease, the amount you owe your landlord will be four weeks’ rent.

Smoke alarm installation

Under any new contracts, all properties must now have smoke alarms installed.

Property owners who have tenants on an existing lease have until August 2018 to install a smoke alarm if one is not already installed.

The opt-in posting clause

The opt-in posting clause will extend the notification period for renters and property owners from four weeks to eight weeks. This will give both parties more time to prepare for changes.

Changes affecting bonds

Other changes affecting rental bonds in the ACT should ensure that bonds, and any related disputes, are more quickly sorted out with a 10-day notification period. This will apply to existing and future tenancy agreements.

A new deduction will also stipulate that if a tenant in the ACT does not return the keys for their premises at the end of a tenancy, the property owner may claim the reasonable cost of securing the property – This usually means changing the locks.

Changes to a tenancy when there is violence

The tenancy changes also create new provisions under the Act to allow for tenants experiencing domestic violence to end a tenancy agreement or have the perpetrator removed from the lease, by applying to the Tribunal.

The ACT Government’s guide to rights and responsibilities for Canberra tenants, property owners and real estate agents has now been updated to reflect the above amendments (and more) to the Act. A copy of The Renting Book can be found here.