As you may have heard, the new provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (ACT) commenced on 1 November 2019. Some of the changes will apply to your existing tenancy agreements, and some of them will only apply when you sign a new agreement after 1 November 2019.

What changes will affect existing Tenancy Agreements?
The changes regarding modifications will apply to all tenancy agreements, including your existing tenancy agreements. If your tenant asks for your consent to make a special modification to the property, you can only refuse consent if you obtain approval from the ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal (ACAT). A special modification is a renovation, alteration or addition to the rental property that:

  • is for safety, to assist a tenant who is living with a disability, to improve energy efficiency, to allow access to telecommunications services, or for security or
  • can be removed or undone easily, that is, a minor modification.

If your current tenancy agreement requires a tenant to seek your consent to keep a pet, then the changes will now apply. You can only refuse consent to a pet if you obtain approval from ACAT.

What changes will affect new Tenancy Agreements?
The changes regarding modifications will apply to all new tenancy agreements.

In your new agreement, you will not be able to absolutely prohibit pets. If your new tenancy agreement does not have a clause about pets, then the tenant may have a pet without seeking permission from you. If your new tenancy agreement requires the tenant to ask for your consent to keep a pet, then you will not be able to refuse consent unless you obtain approval from ACAT.

Rental increases
The changes regarding rent increases will apply to new tenancy agreements. You are not permitted to increase the rent above the prescribed amount unless the tenant agrees in writing to the increase. It is important to note that the prescribed amount is based on the rents component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Canberra, which is currently higher than the general CPI for Canberra.

Break lease clauses
If you choose to include a break lease clause in your new tenancy agreement after 1 November 2019, then you must include the new prescribed break lease clause. The new clause will reduce the break fee payable by the tenant if you find a new tenant within 4 weeks.

How can MV assist you?
MV Law’s Leasing Team has an up-to-date Residential Tenancy Pack which will provide you with the relevant documents and information to ensure you are across all the changes and ready to manage your own property.

For more information, contact the MV Law Leasing team:

Christine Murray                     Partner                     Property, Commercial and Finance
(02) 6279 4402                                                 

Jennifer Jaeschke                  Senior Associate      Property, Commercial and Finance
(02) 6279 4361                                                

Helpful links:
ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate – Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 page
ACT Civil & Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) – Rental property disputes page