NSW Opposition Leader Michael Daley has vowed to end “no grounds” evictions in the first 100 days of a Labor government, despite a recent tenancy law review recommending against it.
Mr Daley on Wednesday said Labor would stop landlords from evicting a tenant without reason, introduce five-year tenancies and limit rent increases to once a year in order to make renting “fairer and more secure”.
“It’s not about pitting tenants against landlords, it’s about making sure it’s fair for everyone,” he said in the Labor-held seat of Summer Hill, home to suburbs with the biggest proportion of renters in Sydney.
“We want to make sure there’s good rental stock, we want to keep rental attractive … that’s key to the modern future of Sydney.”
“No grounds” evictions allow landlords to remove tenants at the end of a lease without giving any reason.
However, a residential tenancy law review last year concluded the laws around “no grounds” evictions should not change and the government instead needed to consider ways to improve security of tenure, including through longer fixed term leases.
The government also passed legislation last October that limits rent increases to once a year.
Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said the legislation, which was supported by Labor, had improved rights for renters and provided protection for landlords.
“Our reforms protect victims of domestic violence, by allowing tenants to terminate their lease and improve tenants’ ability to make minor alterations to turn a house, into a home and create a basic set of minimum habitable standards that a house must meet,” he said.
“And they give Fair Trading the power to order landlords to make repairs on properties.”
Mr Kean accused Mr Daley of “scaring” renters into thinking they could be kicked out days or weeks after moving in.
“Landlords are required to wait until the end of a fixed term lease and then provide 30 days’ notice to move out, or 90 days’ notice if it’s a periodic lease,” Mr Kean said.
In comparison, tenants only need to give 21 days’ notice. This is the right balance.”
Tenancy and welfare groups have long argued that some landlords are using “no grounds” evictions to avoid their responsibilities, kicking out tenants who ask for repairs or try to negotiate the rent.
With two million people renting across the state, rental rights and housing security are shaping up to be key electoral issues ahead of next month’s poll.
Labor’s spokeswoman for better regulation, Yasmin Catley, insisted their policy would “bring the pendulum back” to create real balance for renters and landlords.
“Removing ‘no fault’ evictions is a game-changer,” she said.
“Shifting the power is critically important because at the moment people are too scared to even ask to get a washer changed in a dripping tap.”
The Property Owners Association of NSW opposed Labor’s move to end “no grounds” evictions, saying retaliatory and discriminatory evictions were illegal and relevant termination notices could be overturned by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
“Tenancy terminations always have a reason. Majority of landlords want their tenants to stay long term and are happy to attend to their needs,” said its president John Gilmovich.
“It allows property owners some flexibility to manage their asset in terms of major maintenance, family accommodation and other similar situations,” he said.
“Removing this limited and controlled level of flexibility in managing their investments, will likely make residential property a less attractive investment, thereby further damaging supply of residential rental property over the long term, and ultimately place upward pressure on rental levels.”