Friday, May 4, 2018

Fair renting laws: An idea whose time has finally come?

In 1975 the Henderson Poverty Inquiry handed down its final report. One of the major recommendations in the Law and Poverty section, and the only major one which was not implemented, was ending the practice of landlords evicting tenants without a good reason.

Listen to Brendan Edgeworth, Professor of Law at UNSW speaking on ABC Radio National last year.

Is Australia finally, 43 years later, on the verge of accepting the need for change? In just the last few years we have seen a growing recognition of the issue. A number of campaigns have started - the "Make Renting Fair" campaigns in both NSW and Victoria collectively bringing together more than 160 organisations across the two states including NGOs, faith-based groups, unions, councils and tens of thousands of individual tenants and supporters.

New South Wales

Late last year the social housing and homelessness sectors launched their national Everybody's Home campaign - and included in their platform is ending no grounds evictions. While some of the organisations involved in Everybody's Home have been campaigning on this issue for some time, it is significant that it showed for the first time the public support of community housing landlords for ending no grounds evictions.

The Sydney Alliance recently included renting questions in an opinion survey in Penrith and found that 82% of residents disagreed that landlords should be able to evict tenants without giving any good reason).

Now in the last few days, GetUp! has launched their Future to Fight For campaign, with 7 broad-reaching changes including a platform of very positive housing reforms. The platform includes implementing a broad based land tax, increasing public housing, and amongst a range of tenancy law proposals - an end to "no grounds" evictions.
With more tenants than ever before, and more attention to the issue of a fair renting system - are we finally seeing the voices of tenants and their supporters growing loud enough to create real change and bring Australia's tenancy laws, if not into the 21st century, at least in to the 1970s? 

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