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Joint statement: Make renting fair, safe and certain

More than 50% of Territorians rent.

Reform of tenancy law in the Northern Territory is long overdue. Our legislation is over 20 years old and our laws lag behind those of all other Australian states and territories.

The current Territory Government committed to a comprehensive review of tenancy legislation in 2018. The CLP supported this position, and the independents in parliament have also called for reform. Now we are concerned this commitment is faltering with an approach that is piecemeal and insubstantial.

Fair tenancy laws are essential to attract and retain people in the Northern Territory. Most workers, families and students who come to the NT initially rent, as they assess our Territory lifestyle. These early experiences are crucial to their decision about longer term commitment to the Territory.

Fair tenancy laws are also central to aiding in housing homeless people that currently struggle to gain access to housing. Equitable laws also reduce the mental stress caused by packing up and moving a home.

Secure and certain tenancy arrangements guarantee a consistent return on investment in a falling housing market. Consistent laws protect both tenants and landlords. This makes renting fair, safe and certain.

We, who support the tenants of the Territory, see the impacts of unfair, uncertain and unsafe housing every day. We call on the Territory Government to honour their commitment to comprehensive reform of Tenancy Laws. We urge them to urgently commit to addressing the following issues:

• An end to evictions without good reason
• Protection for victims of domestic violence living in rental accommodation, enshrined in the Residential Tenancies Act
• Establishment of an Independent Authority to hold all bonds
• Legislative underpinning for reasonable rents and minimum standards of housing
• Regulation of fees and charges (such as break lease fees), so that they are not unreasonable and unfair.

Territorians expect fairness in their housing arrangements. At the very least, this means bringing rental laws in the NT into line with those that already exist in other Australian jurisdictions. This will help Territorians to live purposeful, productive lives and to contribute to the growth of our economy and our community.

This joint statement is issued by Darwin Community Legal Service, Top End Women’s Legal Service Inc, NT Shelter, Yilli Rreung Housing Aboriginal Corporation, Anglicare NT, NTCOSS, United Voice, Central Australian Women’s Legal Service, Mission Australia, Katherine Women’s Legal Service, North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and St Vincent de Paul Society (NT).

Download the statement here.

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