The NSW State Government announced last Thursday amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, which are the biggest changes to the rental laws in more than two decades. The changes will affect the growing number of renters across NSW that make up over a third of all the residents across NSW.
The changes include set fees for breaking a fixed term lease, limiting landlords to one rental increase a year for periodic leases and no penalties for domestic violence victims who are forced to break lease.
The new changes also include minimum standards that landlords will need to provide, like basic access to electricity and gas, and that rental properties are structurally sound and offer reasonable levels of natural or artificial lighting and ventilation.
“Under these common-sense changes, renting families will be able to make minor alterations, such as installing a picture hook to hang their family photos, and will benefit from a new set of minimum standards to ensure properties are in a liveable condition,” Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said on Thursday.
“I believe we’ve struck the right balance with this reform, and I’m proud to be leading change that benefits the people of NSW.”
These changes have been introduced after review of the act in 2016 that made a series of recommendations to strike an improved balance between the interests of tenants and landlords. Giving more rights to tenants means they have more control over their living space, so it feels more like they are living in their own home.
In a somewhat controversial move, the ‘no grounds for eviction’ regulation has remained untouched. However, the Greens housing spokeswoman Jenny Leong has suggested they wish to amend the bill to remove the ‘no grounds eviction’ rule, to also allow pets as the default in New South Wales and to include items like providing a kitchen in the new minimum standards.
“We know that landlords misuse this provision all the time, evicting tenants as retaliation for requesting repairs, or simply to increase the rent,” she said.