Pet law’s st­ing in the tail

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS - RAPHAELLA SAROUKOS

THE Ter­ri­tory’s lead­ing au­thor­ity in real es­tate says it’s un­ac­cept­able the NT Gov­ern­ment has used COVID-19 as an ex­cuse to not ad­dress con­tro­ver­sial rental leg­isla­tive changes.

In Fe­bru­ary, the gov­ern­ment passed leg­isla­tive changes to the Res­i­den­tial Te­nan­cies Act, which in­cluded a con­tro­ver­sial new clause that pre­sumed ten­ants had a right to keep a pet by pro­vid­ing writ­ten no­tice to a land­lord.

The changes re­ceived heavy crit­i­cism. How­ever, the Act did not take ef­fect due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic tak­ing prece­dence. Now the changes can­not be ad­dressed un­til after the Ter­ri­tory’s gen­eral elec­tion on Au­gust 22.

Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory chief ex­ec­u­tive Quentin Kil­ian said it was not ap­pro­pri­ate the leg­is­la­tion was “hid­den in a drawer” when it could dam­age the in­dus­try.

“Our big­gest fear is that they’re go­ing to qui­etly bring it back out after the COVID non­sense and es­sen­tially start tak­ing away land­lords’ rights,” he said. “We had a num­ber of in­vestors say ‘I’m not go­ing to be an in­vestor here be­cause I’m not go­ing to have the gov­ern­ment dic­tate to me how I op­er­ate my rental prop­erty’. And that’s es­sen­tially what this leg­is­la­tion was do­ing.”

A spokes­woman for At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Natasha Fyles said deal­ing with the coro­n­avirus pan­demic re­mained the Ter­ri­tory gov­ern­ment’s top pri­or­ity.

Both CLP Op­po­si­tion Leader Lia Finoc­chiaro and Ter­ri­tory Al­liance leader Terry Mills have com­mit­ted to abol­ish­ing the changes.

“These changes un­fairly re­move prop­erty own­ers’ rights to refuse ten­ants re­quests to have pets in their rental prop­er­ties,” Ms Finoc­chiaro said. Mr Mills said, if elected, his party would “re­scind and re­set” the leg­is­la­tion.

“They thought a Vic­to­rian La­bor ap­proach would just be ac­cepted in the Ter­ri­tory and that’s not the right ap­proach — nor is it good gov­er­nance not to con­sult re­spect­fully in the first place,” he said.

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