Friday, November 6, 2015

Speak up, be heard!

"Landlords have a right to ensure their investment is protected and can generate reasonable returns. Tenants are entitled to suitable housing and reasonable rights to enjoy their home and not be evicted without prior notice."

So begins Fair Trading's discussion paper as part of the statutory review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

Let's just let that sink in for a minute.

Landlords have a right to a protected investment that generates wealth.

Tenants are also entitled to rights, but nothing beyond the point of enjoying their home while they have one. The risk in the rental market, it seems, is all theirs.

People who live in rented homes deserve better than this. Not being evicted without proper notice is nice - but not being evicted without a proper reason is what we should be entitled to.

The number of people who live in rented homes is growing, and their profile is changing.

In our recent report on the Act, we pointed out that the proportion of households who rent in New South Wales has been steadily increasing for at least a decade. In 2001, 27.5% of private dwellings were occupied by renter households. In 2006 it was 28.4%, and in 2011 it was 30.1%. There are no signs that this trend is reversing - the population of renters in New South Wales is growing faster than the population in general.

We also know that the composition of renter households has changed over time. More people are renting for longer, and more and more families with children are making their homes in the rental market. In 1981, the proportion of Australian renter households who were families with children was around 26%. In 2011 it was closer to 40%.

Fair Trading's discussion paper also notes the changing profile of the NSW rental market:
Historically, renting has been viewed as a short-term housing option - a stepping stone to home ownership. Today, people are renting for longer. According to figures from the Rental Bond Board, in the last ten years there has been a 7.2% increase in the number of tenancies lasting longer than 3 years. A corresponding decrease of 5.2% was recorded for tenancies of less than 6 months.
These statistics paint a clear picture - more people are renting for longer in New South Wales.

But pointing out the statistics doesn't always get us very far. If we are to challenge the view that tenants are merely entitled to enjoy their homes while they have them - rather than feel some basic level of security within them - then we need to do more than recite statistics.

Tenants need to find their voice.

Download and read Fair Trading's discussion paper. Circulate it amongst family and friends. Talk about it. Think about it. Respond to it.

Let them know you're out there. Let them know that you are a person, not a statistic. Let them know what you think of renting in New South Wales. Your experience is valuable.

Fair Trading has set up an online form where you can answer some or all of the questions they've raised in their paper - find it here.

1 comment:

  1. I think as a low income wage earner living and working in the city I will never have a deposit for a house in nsw if it wasn.t for public and community housing which is being sold off as well now I could not support myself we need more social housing not less


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