The introduction of laws improving protections for tenants against the misuse of tenancy blacklists has begun today with the tabling of the Residential Tenancy Amendment Bill 2018 in the Northern Territory Parliament.

The reforms will regulate the practice of “blacklisting” tenants and ensure that any records kept in relation to tenancy issues will be relevant, true and correct, and proportionate, bringing the Northern Territory in line with other jurisdictions.

A key reform is the introduction of maximum time periods that tenants can be placed on a blacklist.

Under current NT legislation, a tenant doing the wrong thing can be blacklisted potentially for life.

Darwin Community Legal Service Solicitor Andrew Smith said, “the threat of being put on a blacklist is a powerful, coercive force that we regularly see exploited by real estate agents and property managers.”

“Under current NT legislation, a tenant can be blacklisted for life. That’s extreme punishment for what are sometimes small or trivial issues.”

“I had a tenant who was blacklisted for 7 years over a $400 dispute and left the territory when they couldn’t find a property to rent,” said Solicitor Andrew Smith. In extreme cases, a blacklisting, whether correct or not, could result in the tenant becoming homeless.

The regulation provides clarity and certainty for landlords and tenants, enabling the market to operate and for vacancies to be filled without unfair restrictions on eligibility. Over 50% of the population rent in the Northern Territory. Laws protecting the rights of tenants to safe and secure housing affect the majority of our population.

DCLS is optimistic that further reforms of Residential Tenancy law will reflect best practice established in other jurisdictions and attract people to the Territory.

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