Further support needed for renters in NSW
Published on 12/05/2020
The current COVID-19 health crisis has impacted everyone in our community.
For many renters the challenge of losing a job and reduced household income, or other financial and health impact, has been particularly acute. Many face losing their rented homes. We need to support households to navigate through health crises limiting financial and health impacts as much as possible, ensuring as much as we can that everyone is able to stay safe in their homes - during this immediate crisis, and in the longer term.
The NSW Evictions Moratorium has been in place since 15 April. Its implementation has seen useful progress towards providing greater certainty to renters on their ability to stay at home during the crisis. However, there are still significant gaps and key issues emerging especially for vulnerable or disadvantaged community members. These point to the need for further supports for vulnerable renters during this time.
Key issues identified
- Continued evictions including retaliatory evictions ('no grounds' eviction) being used to get around the requirement to negotiate a reduced rent with renters impacted by the crisis
- Many renters in financial distress because of COVID-19 are being forced to break their lease because of failed rent reduction negotiations. Alternatively they facing staying in their home (protected against eviction) while accumulating unmanageable debt they worry they won't be able to repay down the track.
- Impacted tenants are facing significant penalties when forced to break their lease
- Lack of clear guidelines with regards to the framework for ‘good faith’ rent reduction negotiations is creating considerable confusion for tenants, landlords and their agents
- The need for an explicit baseline standard when considering the financial hardship renters are facing. A baseline minimum standard for determining a ‘fair and reasonable’ offer of rent reduction would help set expectations for both parties about outcomes
- When negotiations fail and the Tribunal is currently still unable to apply a ‘fair and reasonable’ rent to help resolve the situation
- There is a clear need for further rent relief measures to assist both renters and landlords facing financial hardship
Further protections against eviction
Greater certainty and clarity about rent reduction negotiation process regards outcomes
Allow the Tribunal to apply a ‘fair and reasonable’ rent reduction where ‘good faith’ rent reduction negotiations have failed
Allow impacted tenants to break their lease early without significant penalty
Further rent relief required
The Tenants' Union NSW has prepared a detailed briefing on the current framework of protections provided via the NSW Evictions Moratorium.
Read the full briefing for more on the key issues and recommendations here.
For the latest info see our Renters' Guide to COVID-19.