[UPDATE May 14, 2020]
Legislation Passed Supporting Renters
The NSW Parliament passed the Covid-19 Emergency Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 No 2 yesterday which included amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 to be in force during the emergency period - a big step forward from where the government stood just a few weeks ago regarding protections for renters.
The amendments gave renters two important wins:
1) renters may be able to break their leases with reduced penalties by applying through the Tribunal under certain circumstances: if the landlord has refused to negotiate rent relief, or refused to negotiate in good faith or, if a tenant and a landlord are unable to come to an agreement on a fair and affordable rent reduction.
2) renters and households who are Covid-19 impacted (by losing more than 25% of their incomes or the household's income), will be able to receive reduced rents via a compensation fund that will support landlords who can show hardship and who pass on rent reductions to tenants.
The Greens put up a series of amendments which would have given renters more significant support at this time in key areas:
- giving the Tribunal the power to impose reduced rents and to prioritize renters' applications as urgent
- rent relief for renters and landlords in financial hardship
- restricting the ability of landlords to evict tenants on no grounds
- stopping retaliatory evictions
- break lease option without any financial penalty
- maintenance records available on request to renters
- allowance of pets to give tenants more flexibility when seeking a home
Jenny provided a wrap up of what happened on Facebook live after the legislation passed which you can watch here.
To find the details about these changes and other measures and how they can help in your specific circumstances, go to the Department of Fair Trading site or check out the information on the Tenants Union site.
We will continue to work for a better deal for renters especially during this pandemic when the right to an affordable, livable home is more crucial than ever.
[UPDATE April 13, 2020]
Overdue Eviction Moratorium Welcome, But No Rent Relief Yet
Today the NSW Government finally made clear their plans to enact a moratorium on evictions in NSW renters and other measures to protect commercial and residential tenants during this pandemic.
These measures will see much needed protection put in place, but is it unclear whether the money allocated to the package will actually assist in reducing rents at this time.
The moratorium on evictions in NSW, including protection from being blacklisted, will provide crucial protection for those who have been living with the stress of being evicted into homelessness because they can’t pay their rent.
The announcement also includes an additional funding boost of $2.3. million for advice and advocacy services to the NSW Tenants Union so that they can continue to support tenants through these negotiations with their landlords.
Read the Greens media statement in response to the announcement here.
The announcement today does not include direct financial support for renters - it remains to be seen whether the measures put in place to support tenants in negotiations and incentivise landlords to provide rent reductions - will be enough.
The Greens are committed to ensuring that no-one is evicted into homelessness during this pandemic - or left with a massive rent debt when it is finally over.
[UPDATE April 9, 2020]
Renters waiting while Minister enjoys Pearl Beach ‘Holiday’ Home
It seems the NSW Arts Minister has been flouting the restrictions and spending time at his holiday home in Pearl Beach, while artists and the entire creative industry suffers as a result of this pandemic.
Read more about this and the need for urgent rental relief for tenants - many of whom are artists, musos and creatives - on Jenny's facebook here.
[UPDATE March 30, 2020]
A Moratorium on Evictions
Last night Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a number of significant and much needed measures to protect renters and tenants during this pandemic.
Commercial and residential tenancies
As part of its work on helping businesses hibernate, National Cabinet agreed that short-term intervention is needed for commercial tenancies. Work on this has begun, but there is more to do, including for residential tenancies.
National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.''
Read the full statement and details here.
This is a vital first step in protecting renters to ensure that no one is forced into homelessness as a result of losing their jobs at this time. And I know this is a massive relief for so many people who have lost their income and didn't know how they were going to pay their rent this week.
Thank you to everyone who signed the petition calling for a moratorium and have been pushing for this with us over the last weeks.
It's now up to the NSW government to enact changes and bring this into law. There is nothing stopping them from acting on this - and putting the moratorium in place today. This is because we were able to secure much needed amendments to the NSW COVID-19 Emergency Measures Act to give them the power to act for renters and tenants immediately (read more about that below).
We know that a moratorium on evictions is a crucial step - but more needs to be done.
A moratorium without direct financial support to renters is only pushing the problem further down the road.
We know that many renters have lost their income, so the last thing they need is to be living with the reality of an ever growing rental arrears debt. At the end of this pandemic, it isn’t acceptable for people who rent to be left with huge and unserviceable debts.
If significant amounts of direct financial support can be handed out to big business and banks in this current crisis, then there is no excuse for not also providing direct financial support to renters.
These are our priorities: that NO-ONE is evicted into homelessness and that renters are financially supported so they don’t accrue massive debts.
To ensure no-one is evicted in to homelessness during this pandemic:
- Immediate action by the NSW Government to implement the moratorium on evictions as agreed by National Cabinet
- Direct financial support for renters to ensure they do not accrue large debts as a result of not being able to pay rent
- Rents frozen for the next 12 months so that renters going back into the workforce won't face increased rents and rental stress during this transition period
- No mortgage foreclosures, so housing isn’t lost due to people being unable to meet their mortgage repayments.
- Support and access for international students, refugees and asylum seekers and other visa holders, so that no one, no matter what their citizenship status, is homelessness during this pandemic
In addition to this, we have been working closely with Homelessness NSW and other key homelessness services to ensure that protections and plans are in place to house people who are currently homeless, living in boarding houses or find themselves in other specific circumstances and need specialist housing and support.
We are also working to support local businesses to ensure they are updated and connected with supports for them - get in touch if you want to know more about this.
We will continue to provide updates and share more details as they are available.
In the meantime - we urge you to contact the Premier and the NSW Minister responsible for residential tenancies - to share your story and explain why they need to act immediately.
Greens Leader Adam Bandt and Senator Mehreen Faruqi discuss the housing crisis, and the looming debt crisis if tenants are forced to repay 6 months rent after the shut down is over.Read more
In response to today’s announcement by the NSW Government outlining an eviction moratorium for NSW renters and other measures, Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing welcomed the much needed protection put in place through an eviction moratorium and increased funding for tenant support, but questioned whether the money allocated to the package will actually assist in reducing rents at this time.
Jenny Leong MP said:
“This moratorium on evictions in NSW, including protection from being blacklisted, will provide crucial protection for those who have been living with the stress of being evicted into homelessness because they can’t pay their rent.
Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing and Homelessness is urging the Premier to put an immediate moratorium on evictions for people unable to pay rent during the Corona virus pandemic, as well as recommending a number of urgent measures to assist people who are homeless and those living in public and social housing.Read more
NSW Greens Housing and Homelessness spokesperson Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has responded to the Liberal's homelessness announcement today by questioning the priorities of the Premier and highlighting the hypocrisy of the Minister for Family and Community Services.
“While setting targets is welcome, the targets announced by the Liberals today would amount to housing fewer than 5 people every week across the whole state! Surely we can do better than that.Read more
Congratulations to all the incredible volunteers at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre who were honored last week at the Newtopian Outreachers – Thank You & Community Celebration.
Housing has become unaffordable for many people living all over Sydney.
I was happy to speak recently on behalf of the NSW Greens at the large community affordable housing forum, "We All Need a Home" in Parramatta which was presented by a group of community advocacy organisations.
The panel of local, state and federal politicians and housing experts heard from local residents about how hard it is to make ends meet when the rents are so high and the lack of security of tenure means people are forced to move regularly, adding large additional costs and dislocation them from their community.
We know that a very large percentage of people living in Parramatta are renting - over 6,000 according to the Census which is 68% of residents. The mean unit rent is about $500 per week and house prices have skyrocketed with the mean sales price for a home now over $900,000. These statistics mean that housing is just simply unaffordable for a significantly large proportion of people in Parramatta.
The Greens are committed working with community groups to push housing reforms in the NSW parliament which include giving all councils in NSW the right to prepare affordable housing contribution schemes for specific precincts, areas or developments within their local government areas. Inclusionary zoning is an crucial step to actually providing affordable homes and not just facilitating the construction of investment properties.
We will also keep advocating for key reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act including the call to abolish no grounds evictions as well as changing state legislation so that annual rent rises are pegged to the CPI.
While we have seen some positive changes to renters rights this year as a result of our lobbying and that of many peak housing groups, there's still plenty more to be done.
October 2018 - South Sydney Herald column
There’s a lot going on right now in our local community when it comes to infrastructure, but not in a good way! The NSW Liberals and their big business mates seem hell bent on taking all they can from our neighbourhoods, and much less interested in giving us anything we actually need in return.
Our community is vibrant, caring and creative. We value our public housing, our public schools, our public parks, our public transport. We recognise the need for significant investment in public services, including healthcare – and especially mental health support. We know that to end the housing crisis we will need to invest in more public, social and affordable housing. We know that privatisation and leaving it to the market doesn’t lead to better outcomes or address inequality.Read more
Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown has responded to changes to Strata Laws in NSW.Read more