If you are currently looking for rental accommodation, or know someone that is, you would be aware that we are experiencing a housing crisis in our area that extends all over NSW. When there are limited rental properties available, there is the potential for landlords to offer sub-standard accommodation at eye-watering prices and engage in bidding wars with potential tenants to drive up the rental price. The flip side is that there are many landlords that have suffered extra costs they need to pass on in order for renting their property to remain viable such as fixing property damage by tenants, removing waste left behind, as well as their increasing interest rates. The regulatory framework dealing with tenant and landlord rights is constantly evolving to try to strike a balance that is fair to both parties.
Some key changes have already been made to NSW tenancy laws this year. Real estate agents are now prohibited from inviting an offer for rent that is higher than an advertised amount. A bill has also recently been passed that allows the NSW Rental Commissioner to gather pricing data from agents in an effort to be able to advocate for reasonable pricing for renters based on local market comparison.
Some of the proposed changes that have been discussed include removing ‘no grounds’ terminations. Landlords are currently able to give 90 days notice to end a periodic tenancy at any time without reason and a shorter period with reason. The proposal will not change a landlord’s ability to terminate a lease for valid reasons such as the sale of the property, non-payment of rent or utility charges, or the tenant causing damage to the property provided the minimum notice periods are met. There are some additional reasons being proposed for landlords to rely on including repairs or renovations to the property, or an intention for the landlord to move themselves or an immediate family member into the property.
There are also proposed changes to make it easier for tenants with pets, a landlord will not be able to refuse permission for pets without reasonable reason. Some of the reasons currently being discussed where a landlord could refuse an animal without seeking an order from the Tribunal would be a restricted or dangerous dog, if it is against council zoning laws, or if the landlord has previously received an exclusion for the property.
A process for transferring bonds from one rental property to another are also being discussed, and well as having limits in place for tenants’ information collected and held by real estate agents, and a restriction on using an automated decision-making system for assessing rental applications.
Unfortunately none of these proposed changes will result in more rental properties, which is what we really need. What it will do however is provide further clarity for both tenants and landlords as to their rights and responsibilities. KC Hilton, WNB Legal.