NSW landlords to lose no-grounds evictions under Labor (Financial Review 27/2/2019)

Source: https://www.afr.com/real-estate/residential/nsw/nsw-landlords-lose-nogrounds-evictions-under-labor-20190227-h1bruh


NSW landlords will no longer be able to evict tenants from their properties without providing a reason and must wait a year before raising the rent, if Labor wins the March election.

The opposition announced a raft of tenant-focused policies slated for implementation within 100 days of their election, in a move welcomed by tenant advocates but opposed by property investors.

Labor's shadow minister for regulation Yasmin Catley said the proposed changes would also create a building ministry to ensure dwellings are built to purpose.

"When you've got 70 groups and hundreds if not thousands of activists including, can I say, a list of academics as long as my arm coming out saying 'ending no-fault evictions is the thing that is required for tenants in NSW to have some security in NSW' than I'm afraid you listen," Ms Catley said.

Tenants Union of NSW senior policy officer Leo Patterson Ross embraced the 100-day timeline and Labor Leader Michael Daley said the changes were drafted with the support of the Real Estate Institute of NSW.

Landlords can currently serve tenants with "no-grounds" evictions within 90-days of the lease's expiration that don't provide a reason for the ejection and are able to raise the rent once every twelve months during the fixed term period of the tenancy or at anytime after the fixed period has ended, with the tenant moved to a continuing agreement.

Labor's plan will end the "no-grounds" evictions but allow landlords to evict on grounds such as a wish to sell the house, move back into it, or if their undertaking major renovations.

The changes would mean rents could only be raised once a year and only after the tenant has occupied the home for 12 months.

The Property Council of NSW's reaction was muted; executive director Jane Fitzgerald said while it was important renters in NSW "can easily find affordable, quality rental accommodation", this goal was better achieved through encouraging industry movement into the "build-to-rent" space.

She implied NSW Labor's policies would combine with their federal counterpart's plans to curb negative gearing and halve the capital gains tax concession for property investors to "make a dent in the number of rental properties available".

"We must ensure that we have the balance right between tenant and landlord rights; a system that means residents feel secure in their tenancy and landlords are able to manage their property," Ms Fitzgerald said.

"The important thing is balance — we do not want to tip the scales to the extent that landlords are unable to effectively manage their property, however the 30 per cent of our state population who rent deserve a fair go — Labor must consult further on this policy before its potential implementation to get the balance right.

" The Labor Party plan does not include change of the current anti-retaliatory eviction legislation, a much criticised law by tenant groups who don't believe it goes far enough to protect renters from reactionary landlords with an axe to grind, because they believe an end to no-grounds evictions will be a cure to this problem.

Mr Patterson Ross disagreed. "Getting that right will resolve a lot of those issues but I do think there are also improvements that could be made to retaliatory evictions and we would be monitoring closely whether the current retaliatory systems would improve with the ending of no-grounds evictions," he said.

Jason Gwerder
Thursday, 28 February 2019

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