Jenny Leong MP, Greens Member for Newtown has welcomed the extension of pandemic protections for renters, but called on the Liberal/National government to address the significant inequality in our tenancy laws.
The NSW government released a discussion paper in May 2020 on a Housing Strategy for NSW. Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Housing and Jamie Parker MP, NSW Greens spokesperson on Planning made a submission on behalf of the NSW Greens. The following is an extract from this submission.
As a matter of protocol and a mark of respect, we acknowledge it always was and always will be Aboriginal land and pay our respects to Aboriginal elders past, present and emerging.
We also submit that ‘A Housing Strategy for NSW’ must prioritise ensuring Aboriginal housing needs are met along the housing continuum. This means resourcing Aboriginal-led homelessness services, supporting Aboriginal-led community housing providers, pro-actively involving Aboriginal-led organisations in the development and implementation of this strategy and recognising through reparation that the land that is the focus of this strategy is stolen land that was never ceded.
- Incorporate plans for genuine consultation and input from Aboriginal-led organisations both in the development and implementation of the NSW Housing Strategy
- Recognise the need for reparations given that the land all of this housing will be delivered on is stolen land
- Ensure adequate resourcing and support for Aboriginal-led homelessness and housing services as well as community housing providers
- Identify housing as a key component of the State’s infrastructure priorities
- Establish an integrated Housing portfolio in NSW with a single Minister who has responsibility across private, public, community and rental housing areas, combined with the establishment of a Housing Ombudsman
- Incorporate specific actions to progress protections for renters and advance rental reforms which enable security of tenure, affordability and habitability for renters in to the NSW Housing Strategy
- Commit to large scale government development and provision of public, social and affordable housing as housing options for a range of tenants with varying incomes
- Mandate 30% affordable housing in new private rental housing developments
- Commit to ending homelessness and ensure there are no exits to homelessness from state institutions or as a result of family violence or economic disadvantage
- Recognise the climate crisis as a key driver for strong action in the housing strategy and include actions to progress zero emissions sustainable housing and large scale retrofitting of existing homes.
[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.Read more
During the debate of emergency measures introduced to deal with COVID-19 in NSW, Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong MP, moved an amendment to ban No Grounds Evictions in NSW.Read more
During debate on emergency measures during COVID-19, Greens Member for Newtown Jenny Leong MP moved an amendment to ban retaliatory evictions during the pandemic.Read more
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.
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.
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.
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