[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.
Take a minute to send a message to the NSW government to ask that they act to urgently support and protect renters.
We want to renters to get a better deal during this pandemic and beyond. Housing is a human right and everyone should have the right to a safe, secure and affordable place to live, especially at this time.
By taking this action you will be adding your voice to support renters who've lost their usual income, don’t know how to pay the rent, and are being unfairly burdened with trying to individually negotiate from a position of weakness.
To Gladys Berejiklian - NSW Premier.
I ask that you protect renters and provide relief and assistance so that they are not left struggling to negotiate with landlords or cope with unaffordable rents and huge rent debts.
I want to see:
- No unfair 'No Grounds' or retaliatory evictions - now or in the future.
- Affordable rents - paying no more than 30% of your income means that the rent is affordable.
- No rent debt - no rental agreements that include the accumulation of rent debt.
- An emergency housing fund - to support people who’ve fallen through the gaps including those living in sharehouses, boarding houses, student accommodation, backpackers and informal housing arrangements and who are ineligible for income or other support.
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.
This petition has now been closed and directed to the Premier. For the latest updates on this issue, click here.
SIGN THE PETITION: PUT A MORATORIUM ON EVICTIONS IN NSW
We need a moratorium on evictions in NSW immediately so that no one is evicted while we are dealing with this pandemic.
People who don’t have secure income, casuals, freelancers, students, hospo staff, retail workers, creatives, artists, musos as well as people with disabilities and those who have carer responsibilities - are most likely also renters. These are the people also most likely taking a massive hit to their incomes due to the cancellation of major events and changes to how people are eating out, socialising and going about their daily lives for the foreseeable future.
We already had a housing and homelessness crisis in NSW before this virus hit.
The harsh reality of housing stress and insecurity impacts over 300,000 low income renters in our state.
Housing is a human right - and now more than ever we need to ensure as many people in our society as possible have the guarantee of a safe, secure and affordable place to live.
Everyone needs to be able to take actions to minimise transmission of this virus and that's best done if you are in secure housing - a key component of financial security and personal well being.
That means NO EVICTIONS until we are through this thing as a first step.
And a clear plan for bringing together the right people to ensure people are not left with unmanageable debts as a result of this current crisis.
We have written to the Premier requesting urgent action - you can read that letter here - but we need you to add your voice to the call. Sign the petition now!
Attention: NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Kevin Anderson, Minister for Better Regulation
We the undersigned urge you to put a moratorium on all evictions to ensure we don't add to the current health crisis with an increase to the housing and homelessness crisis.
We implore you to act to protect the most vulnerable in our state who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or living with severe rental stress or housing insecurity.
We ask that you ensure they are supported financially and socially - and aren't left with massive debts.
Now is the time for us to work together and do all that we can to limit the stress, anxiety and health risks faced by those who are facing real financial and social hardship due to this compounding crisis.
Today I called on the Premier and Minister Gareth Ward MP (Families, Communities and Disability), Melinda Pavey MP (Water, Property and Housing) and Kevin Anderson MP (Better Regulation and Innovation) to take urgent steps to ensure that people in NSW have a safe, secure, affordable and habitable place to live - from renters to public and social housing tenants and those who are homeless. At the top of the list was our call for a Moratorium on any evictions of rental tenants during this period.
Read or download the full letter here.
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.
NSW Greens Housing spokesperson and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP has called out the failure of the NSW Liberal budget to address systemic housing issues while talking up a $3.9 billion surplus.
“It is meaningless for the Premier to identify homelessness as one of her priorities if she is not willing to invest to actually address the housing crisis in our state, especially when the budget surplus this year is $3.9 billion.”
With today’s release of the latest Rental Affordability Index, NSW Greens Housing spokesperson Jenny Leong MP, called for an urgent response from the government to the rental crisis.
“This latest report again confirms that we are experiencing an alarming crisis in housing which has to be addressed by the Liberal National NSW government.Read more
Greens NSW Housing Spokesperson Jenny Leong MP has committed to stand up for the one third of people in NSW who rent and work to put an end to mass eviction threats by billionaire developers like Harry Triguboff.
"People are already living with such fear and insecurity as a result of the current rental housing crisis - it's not just arrogant it's shockingly irresponsible for anyone to threaten mass evictions as Mr Triguboff has done."Read more