Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming election on 25 March, NSW will see an end to ‘no grounds’ evictions during periodic tenancies.
The NSW Liberals and Nationals’ today committed to replacing ‘no grounds’ evictions with a set of ‘reasonable grounds’ for terminating periodic tenancy agreements based on community consultation. This announcement means there is now a consensus that stable homes need to be a feature of our modern renting system.
“It’s clear that decision-makers have realised they have to respond to renters’ calls for action. This is a change that the renters of NSW and housing policy experts have been seeking for decades. Today’s announcement is a direct result of the experiences, organising and testimonies of everyday renters.”
Leo Patterson Ross, CEO, Tenants’ Union of NSW
Ensuring a meaningful outcome requires addressing reasonable grounds for evictions at the end of a fixed term. For this reason, the announcement today does not go far enough. A majority of renters (71%) currently experiencing ‘no grounds’ evictions receive these at the end of a fixed term tenancy. We have also seen landlords and their agents in other jurisdictions take advantage of this omission, shifting renters on to shorter fixed term tenancies to ensure they can continue evicting for no reason.
Rather than ending ‘no grounds’ evictions at the end of fixed-term agreements, the NSW Liberals and Nationals announced they would extend notice periods for end of fixed-term tenancies from 30 to 45 days. Extra time to find a new rental home can be helpful for renters evicted at the end of a fixed-term agreement. However, within fixed-term tenancies renters can’t leave early without facing a break fee, so extra notice won’t necessarily help renters. This will need to be addressed at point of implementation to ensure renters can leave once notice is given to make sure it has the intended impact.
Other positive commitments from today’s announcement include a focus on compliance and enforcement of the recently introduced rules against solicited rent bidding, and a re-commitment to implement a rental bond rollover scheme.
Today’s announcement makes clear that decision makers are listening to renters. In the face of rent increases racing ahead of inflation and household wages there needs to be a focus from all parties on how to address rental affordability. Alongside ensuring we have available stock at a range of price points, this needs to include considering solutions that reflect renting as an essential service. This includes putting in place fair and appropriate limits around rent setting, including much better protections of unfair rent increases, just as we have seen bipartisan support for in relation to energy prices.
Achieving cross-party support for ending ‘no grounds’ evictions during periodic agreements is a huge step forwards that will improve the security of renters all across NSW. Today’s win has come from decades of tireless campaigning by tenant advocates, community organisations, unions, and most importantly, the renters of NSW.