Name of Bill: Residential Tenancies Amendment (Tenant Protections and Flood Response) Bill 2022
Introduced by: Jenny Leong MP, Greens Housing Spokesperson
Date of second reading speech in Parliament: 24 March 2022
Residential Tenancies Amendment (Tenant Protections and Flood Response) Bill 2022
NSW is experiencing a well documented housing crisis which has made housing affordability a key issue for a high percentage of renters in NSW. This situation has been exacerbated in the wake of the devastating floods in NSW which have impacted thousands of people who need specific protections at this time to avoid homelessness and/or extreme financial stress.
This Bill seeks to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 to provide:
- increased protections for tenants generally across NSW
- additional specific protections for tenants in NSW flood impacted areas
This Bill addresses crucial issues faced by renters in NSW in light of the housing affordability crisis and social housing deficit in the form of protection from unfair evictions and rent caps. It also addresses minimum rental standards so that renters are protected from living in conditions which are detrimental to their health by inserting mould and waterproofing ‘fit for habitation’ requirements.
Specific Measures for Flood Impacted Areas
The following protections for renters in flood impacted areas will apply for 12 months after this Bill is enacted:
- Evictions Ban: Tenants in areas which have been declared flood impacted will be protected from evictions unless the property is uninhabitable or the property ceases to be able to be used as a residence.
- Cap on Rents: Existing rents will be unable to be increased during this period. New leases and leases on new rental properties will also be limited and must be in line with the median rent for the same type of property prior to Feb 25th 2022.
Increased Tenant Protections across NSW
- Mould and Damp Free: Landlords for residential premises will be required to ensure that the premises are ‘free of mould’ and have adequate ‘waterproofing’, in addition to existing plumbing and drainage as a determination of ‘fit for habitation’.
- End No Grounds Evictions: Puts an end to unfair evictions. Tenants will only be able to be evicted under a specific set of circumstances. Guidance to the Tribunal is also inserted to prevent retaliatory evictions.
- Limiting Rent Increases: Rent increases will be restricted to a maximum of once per year and only in line with either the public sector wage increase or the CPI for Sydney, whichever is lesser.
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.
Renters rejoice! It is now possible for you to have access to solar power despite not having access to a sunny roof!
Whether you rent, live in a unit or have a shaded roof you can now share in the benefits of solar too, by applying to be a member of Australia's first large scale solar garden.
The name ''Haystacks Solar Garden' comes from their similarity to a community garden, except instead of growing veggie plots they are growing solar plots.Read more
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
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