Project status: Open

How to have YourSay:

Changes are proposed to two complex areas of residential tenancy law: occupancy law and the share housing framework.

For more information about the changes you can view the:

You can share your thoughts here on the proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

We are looking at:

On 28 November 2019, the Government tabled proposed changes to the way occupancy agreements and share housing works in the Canberra.

Proposed changes related to occupancy law

Occupancy agreements have less rules compared to residential tenancy agreements. This allows them to be used more flexibly than tenancy agreements.

The types of accommodation that may involve occupancy agreements include, for example:

  • Crisis and emergency accommodation
  • Student accommodation in a residential college affiliated with a university
  • Boarding or lodging
  • Supported housing programs
  • Caravan and manufactured home parks.
Defining an ‘occupancy agreement’

The proposed changes would make clear what the difference is between an occupancy agreement and a residential tenancy agreement. This is an area where the current law is not very clear, and it is intended that this change will make things easier for everyone who uses tenancy and occupancy agreements.

The explanatory statement discusses this definition in more detail in its explanation of clause 17 of the public exposure draft.

Mandatory occupancy principles

The draft bill also includes changes that make the occupancy principles in the Residential Tenancies Act relating to occupancy agreements mandatory. This is to provide occupants with minimum protections that can be clearly enforced.

The explanatory statement discusses this in more detail in its explanation of clause 20 of the public exposure draft.

New occupancy principles

The draft bill proposes new occupancy principles to strengthen minimum protections for occupants.

It is intended that the new principles will work for a range of different types of accommodation so that occupants and grantors clearly know what is required of them.

The explanatory statement discusses this in more detail in its explanation of clause 20 of the public exposure draft.

Dispute resolution processes including enforceable conciliation process facilitated by the ACT Human Rights Commission

The new occupancy principles include a requirement for occupants to be provided with information about dispute resolution processes. This information includes how an occupant can access internal dispute processes, a community dispute resolution provider, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and the ACT Human Rights Commission.

The draft bill includes changes which allow all occupants to access the non-adversarial dispute resolution framework of the ACT Human Rights Commission. This provides greater clarity and expands the available options to seek the enforcement of their rights and to resolve disputes.

The explanatory statement discusses this in more detail in its explanation of clauses [1.1]‑[1.11] of the public exposure draft.

Caravan and manufactured home parks

The draft bill contains a new framework which clarifies what happens when a resident wants to sell the dwelling they own if it is located in a residential park.

The bill also includes changes that will clarify what needs to happen when a person who owns their dwelling on a site in a residential park wants to transfer their rights and responsibilities under an occupancy agreement to someone else.

The explanatory statement discusses this in more detail in its discussion of clause 22 of the public exposure draft.

The draft bill also includes new rules about what happens when people abandon their belongings in caravan and manufactured home parks.

The explanatory statement discusses this in more detail in its discussion of clause [1.15] of the public exposure draft.

Proposed modernisation of the share housing framework

Share housing is an extremely common form of tenancy in the ACT, particularly by students and young professionals. Our current laws relating to share housing is very complex, and the bill contains a new framework for it that is simple, modern, and better reflects community behaviours and expectations.

The explanatory statement discusses this in more detail in its discussion of clause 12 of the public exposure draft.

We will use your views to:

We will use your views to refine the proposed changes to best represent the needs of the community and those who are directly impacted by the changes.

It is intended that the final version of the share housing and occupancy bill be introduced in 2020.

Other reforms:

Another package of changes to residential tenancy law is currently before the Legislative Assembly: the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2019 (2019 bill). The amendments proposed by the 2019 Bill cover a wide range of topics. For further information on the 2019 bill, please see the introduction speech in Hansard, the explanatory statement, and the text of the 2019 bill.