Earlier this year the NSW Government received 210 public submissions in response to a discussion paper asking how our rental laws could be better.
Renters and tenant advocates raised concerns around security, maintenance, housing standards and rent increases. Suggestions were offered to improve long-term stability and to allow renters to put down roots and treat their house like a home.
Fair Trading have released the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 - Statutory Review in response to the submissions, which gives 27 recommendations for rental law reform.
While there are some positive recommendations that will improve life for renters, including important protections for victims of domestic violence, the recommendations fail to address the major concerns of renters.
One of the biggest challenges faced by renters in NSW is the threat of a ‘no grounds’ eviction.
At the end of a lease or during an on-going agreement, a landlord can ask a tenant to move out without giving any reason. This creates great uncertainty and instability, with many renters not knowing where they will be living from year to year. It’s an even bigger challenge for families with school-aged children. While Fair Trading recognised that this is a major concern for renters, they recommended keeping the status quo.
The recommendations also don't address the continued upward pressure on rents, the loopholes that let dodgy landlords avoid their maintenance responsibilities, or the fact that many renters would like to keep a pet but are consistently refused.
Renters deserve stability, security, and decent living conditions. But the release of these mediocre recommendations signals that we need to demand that the Government does better for renters.