Tuesday, October 16, 2018

NSW is close to ending unfair evictions - how and why we should do it for the economy

This week, the NSW Legislative Council will vote on amendments to the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) 2018 bill to decide whether to keep unfair 'no grounds' evictions, or replace them with 'reasonable grounds'. Here's what they'll be arguing about.

The ALP and the Greens both have proposed amendments aimed at the issue of 'no grounds' evictions. The ALP amendments restrict s84 and s85 to a list of reasonable grounds that would be added by regulation. This allows for a consultation process to work out what that list should be.

The Greens amendments approach the issue differently. Their amendments allow for two reasonable grounds - an owner or their close family moving in, and significant renovations - as well as allowing for a landlord to nominate any other reason. This any other reason just needs to be one that requires the use of the premises for something other than a residence - for instance, perhaps they want to convert it into a bed and breakfast - for a six-month or more period.
The Greens amendments also address the issue of landlords dishonestly using a reasonable ground by including a section on 'wrongful evictions' with penalties for the landlord and potential compensation for the wrongfully evicted tenant, and strengthens the retaliatory provisions.

It will be up to the cross-bench to say yes or no to making renting fair. Mark Pearson of the Animal Justice Party has an amendment aimed at allowing pets in rental property and is most likely to support making renting fair.

If both the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party vote for an amendment that the ALP and Greens also support, then the amendment will pass. The Christian Democratic Party has already flagged their support for addressing the issue, saying that the government reforms fall short for NSW's most vulnerable if ' no grounds' evictions aren't addressed. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party is yet to declare its intentions. These cross-benchers have received more than 1100 emails from people supporting the Everybody's Home and Make Renting Fair campaigns in the last few weeks. These emails come from all across NSW and have really shown how much support these changes have.

We already know older women, and children are being harmed by the ongoing existence of unfair evictions, but there's another big group who are missing out - tradies.

The Unsettled survey last year found that 30% of tenants were living with ongoing maintenance issues, and 8% of had outstanding urgent repairs. The Curtin survey from last week similarly found 35% of properties with internal maintenance issues and we know many tenants don't report repairs because they are scared and many more because they know the work just won't get done. This is costing the NSW economy a significant amount.

There are around 850,000 bonds in the Rental Bond Board. If we apply those outstanding repairs figures, assume very conservative figures of just $500 per regular repair and $1000 for urgent ones that's almost $200million that is currently being held back from tradies' wages, and parts retailers, distributors and manufacturers and flowing on to the broader economy. Some of these repairs will eventually be done, but many won't, and the sooner the government enables the work to be done, the sooner the broader community will feel the benefits. Don't even get us started on unproductive days off work and longer commutes which harm the economy in a number of ways. Unfair evictions hurt us all.

If Parliament doesn't make renting fair tonight, the outstanding repairs, the fear and anxiety, will continue - but now instead of a long-standing piece of legislation it will have been an active vote by Members of Parliament to have it remain so.

We continue to have faith they will make the right decision for the people of NSW. It is most likely the amendments will be debated tomorrow before lunch - we'll be watching!

1 comment:

  1. This is great news, thankyou so much.
    Gina Scott


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