The Greens have called for extensive reform of NSW rental laws, to give renters improved access to safe and secure housing, in their response to the government’s Discussion Paper on the Review of the Residential Tenancies Act.
The Greens’ full submission to the Discussion Paper can be downloaded here.
We have put the experiences of renters front and centre in our submission, engaging thousands of renters through our online Renters’ Survey and our Facebook page, to ensure that we tip the balance back towards recognising that a rental property is someone's home, and not just a money-making investment for landlords.
Around one third of NSW residents now live in rental accommodation and many people are renting for longer. Renters include families with children enrolled in local schools and elderly people residing near services they rely on.
A lack of stability and the on-going threat of being forced out of their rental homes places immense stress on many renters.
The Greens’ submission to the Discussion Paper draws attention to three priority areas for reform:
1. Removing ‘no grounds’ evictions
Removing ‘no grounds’ termination provisions would provide renters with greater security of tenure and improved wellbeing. Currently a tenant can be evicted (during a continuing agreement) with 90 days’ notice, despite not having breached the tenancy agreement.
2. Appropriate regulation of the amount and frequency of rent increases
At present, there are no restrictions on how much rent can increase, or how often (provided the requisite notice is given) in NSW. Given most leases are for an initial 6 months fixed term, after this initial term renters often face escalating housing costs, far in excess of their income or wage increases and far above CPI.
3. Enforcing landlord responsibilities around maintenance and repairs
While the current Act has provisions in place that require landlords to properly maintain rental properties, in reality our current system allows landlords to ignore their responsibilities in many cases.
Renters in Sydney - and many other parts of NSW – continue to face housing stress, due to a lack of affordable housing options. We need an integrated response to our housing crisis and The Greens recognise that reform of rental laws is only part of the picture.
However it’s essential that we don’t miss this opportunity to improve the lives of the NSW renters during the Review of the Residential Tenancies Act.