The Greens are calling on the NSW Government to take immediate steps to support renters who are impacted by the catastrophic floods throughout NSW.
Greens Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith MP has joined with NSW Greens Housing spokesperson, Jenny Leong MP to call for immediate action to support renters in this crisis and through the recovery period from these devastating floods – including bond vouchers, a freeze on rent increases, and a ban on evictions.
Tamara Smith MP said:
“The scale and scope of devastation can’t be captured in single media images and the crisis our region is facing can’t be dealt with by piecemeal fixes here and there. Right now our community requires at least 12,000 beds - the situation is extremely grave.
“We know that the demand for rental properties was exceeding availability well before the storms hit - now the situation is even more dire. I urge the government to implement our plan for rent relief and for bringing more long term rental properties back into the market.
“The extent of damage in regional towns and villages is such that there will be a deficit of available rental properties for the foreseeable future. We need to ensure that every possible rental property is available for medium to long term rentals for at least the next 12 months.
“Most renters who’ve lost everything, can’t wait weeks and months in this emergency to get their bonds back and a government issued bond voucher will allow them to pay another bond while waiting for the bond from their previous tenancy.
Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens Housing spokesperson said:
“It’s hard enough losing everything and having nowhere to call home, but then having to deal with your landlord, negotiate a rent waiver and cope with the stress of all of this - is just not fair and that’s why we are calling on the NSW Government to step in and immediately waive all rents on uninhabitable properties.
“This emergency should not be an opportunity for landlords to evict tenants or hike up the rents if the tenants choose to continue their tenancies when the property is habitable again.
“The chronic shortage of rental properties could cause a huge increase in the cost of rent as people scramble to find somewhere to live - which is why the Government needs to step in to limit landlords from profiteering from this catastrophic situation.
“Renters will need just as much support as property owners and small and large businesses to get back on their feet after these catastrophic floods.
“The Greens are committed to forcing the NSW Government to act on these issues when parliament returns and believe there is a way that at least some of these measures could be enacted immediately.”
The Greens are calling for the NSW Government to immediately:
1. Halt evictions for 12 months:
○ While renters may be unable to live in their rental accommodation while it is being repaired and cleaned, they should not be evicted if they want to return to their homes.
2. Automatic rent waivers on uninhabitable homes:
○ If a rental home is deemed inhabitable due to flood damage, renters should be eligible for an immediate rent waiver rather than having to negotiate a waiver with their landlord.
3. Bond Vouchers for all impacted renters:
○ If a renter in a flood impacted area needs to relocate due to a property being partially or fully uninhabitable, the tenant should be able to access a Bond Voucher via the Service NSW to enable them to rent another property.
4. No rent increases for 12 months:
○ There must be a moratorium on rent increases in flood affected areas for the next 12 months to ensure that tenants returning to their homes after they have been made habitable do not face increased rents.
5. Increase funding and resources for tenancy advice, advocacy and tribunal:
○ Tenants advocacy services in regional and local flood affected areas will require additional funding and resources to provide increased support for affected renters.
○ The creation of a renter’s concierge within Service NSW to act as a one stop shop for renters inquiries to be able to direct them to tenant advice services and assist with getting emergency accommodation, support, or access to financial relief.
○ Increase funding and resourcing for NCAT so that they have the capacity to hear tenancy related matters without those in flood impacted areas suffering long delays.