No-cause evictions banned in ACT

Years in the making, the ACT’s law banning no-cause evictions has officially faced a parliamentary vote.

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First proposed in an August 2021 discussion paper released by the territory’s Attorney-General, Shane Rattenbury, the ban officially passed Parliament on Tuesday, 21 March 2023. 

A draft copy of the bill released last July signalled the government’s intention to push forward with removing the power for no-cause evictions — despite opposition from the real estate industry — while also making it an offence for landlords or agents to solicit rent bids. 

Those measures passed in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2022, alongside further actions that grant tenants greater freedom to grow their own food and to compost. It also introduced a framework to eventually usher in a set of minimum housing standards for rental properties.

Under the latter amendment, landlords will now be required to notify prospective tenants whether or not their property meets minimum standards. If a property is falling short, tenants will be allowed to seek a rent reduction, compensation or be given the opportunity to end the tenancy. 


The law also makes a provision for landlords to access a rental property if they need to upgrade it to meet the minimum standards.

While the bill was reportedly welcomed by tenants at the time of its introduction, the territory’s peak body, the Real Estate institute of the ACT (REIACT) voiced concerns that that the changes may further deter investors in a state where the rental vacancy rate was recently sitting at less than 1 per cent, and now currently stands at 1.3 per cent.

A poll conducted by the institute in August 2022 showed that under one-quarter — 21 per cent — of investors it surveyed responded that the new laws could entice them to exit the market. Investors also said they believed the legislation would negatively impact their tenants, as they would be forced to raise rents to recover the cost of needed upgrades to meet the new minimum standards.

On the event of the bill’s passing, Mr Rattenbury acknowledged the challenging conditions of “rising rents and limited supply” impacting the territory’s housing market, but asserted that the new legislation was needed to improve tenants’ quality of life.

“It’s important that people who rent feel like their house is a home,” Mr Rattenbury said. 

“We have heard from the community that no-cause evictions have a profoundly negative impact on renters, either because of the eviction itself, or because it stops renters being able to raise other legitimate concerns out of fear of eviction”.

Mr Rattenbury also noted that by eliminating “end of fixed-term tenancy terminations,” the ACT has become the first jurisdiction to put an end to evictions without cause altogether.

“Ending this type of eviction practice means that renters cannot be kicked out of their homes without reason simply because their lease has expired,” Mr Rattenbury said.

He added that he believed the territory’s rental laws balanced the concerns of renters and landlords. by “still recognising that landlords will at times need to end tenancies for genuine reasons, such as selling the property or when a tenant breaches the agreement”.

Bernadette Barrett, advocacy coordinator for tenants’ rights group Better Renting, described the ban on no-cause evictions as a “significant victory” for renters in the region.

Ms Barrett said the change would “empower renters to better advocate for their rights without fear of retaliation, giving them more power to negotiate with landlords and push for necessary repairs or changes to their living arrangements and allowing them to create a better sense of home”.

The reforms take effect on 1 April 2023.

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