NSW proposed no grounds eviction laws to hurt landlord rights

The deadline for submissions into proposed no grounds evictions laws in NSW is approaching, amidst concerns, that landlords’ rights are going to be harmed.

The “No Grounds 2024” Bill, if approved, will be inserted into the Residential Tenancies Act and will mean tenants will no longer be able to be evicted, except in certain situations, such as an owner moving back into the property, or when the property is to be sold.

The Rental Specialists Managing Director and Principal, Jo Natoli, fears the changes will not only impact landlords and property managers but also make renting harder for tenants.

“Essentially, the Bill wants to remove the rights of property owners and investors to take possession of their property using the 90-days no reason that’s currently available to them,” Ms Natoli said.

“It also wants to remove their right to take possession because the fixed term lease is coming up to its expiry date.”

The Bill, introduced by the Greens, could lead to a range of problems, according to Ms Natoli.

“An owner or investor could find themselves in a situation where they have almost a life tenant – someone renting a property that they simply can’t remove unless other particular criteria are met,” she said.

“And then they have to prove the bona fides of the other criteria.

“Their discretionary rights to contract and deal with their own property are at risk.”

Ms Natoli said at this stage it’s unclear what the final details will look like, as the details of the Bill are still changing.

She said that as a renter herself and a property owner, she can understand why removing no grounds evictions is fair in some circumstances.

“I have no problems if we remove the no grounds notice on a periodic tenancy,” she said.

“However, we must be able to compel a tenant to remain on a fixed-term lease, if that’s the case. 

“If tenants want security, then they should always remain on a fixed-term lease. 

“And landlords should not have the right to end a fixed-term lease because it’s coming up to the end of its fixed term.”

Ms Natoli said that the changes will also impact the role of property managers and make it harder for tenants to secure a rental.

“For a property manager, it means that they’re going to be extra cautious about the applications they put forth to the owner. 

“That could work against tenants in a lot of ways. 

“At the moment we have these avenues available to us to be able to terminate tenancy. 

“If you remove them, owners are going to think twice about who they approve as tenants for their property.”

She said property managers will also have to review their systems as many agencies frequently let fixed-term leases roll onto periodic leases without reviewing them.

Ms Natoli said these types of changes are likely to make renting more difficult for many people.

“If the government thinks this is going to help with the housing shortage at the moment, they’re kind of asking us for more trouble,” she said.

Real Estate Buyers Agents Association of Australia (REBAA) President, Melinda Jennison, said that the legislation needs to be fair to both parties.

“There’s reason to believe that both tenants and landlords can find a fair and transparent way to end tenancies, and that’s likely to be the best approach,” Ms Jennison said.

“There’s some landlords that will argue that having complete control over their property is important.

“However, we must always consider that the security of tenants is also very important. 

“We don’t want people to live in fear, thinking that they’re going to be given 30 days to find a new home, because that creates a huge amount of stress and anxiety in people’s livelihoods.”

Ms Jennison said investors also need some degree of protection.

“Landlords want to be able to manage problematic tenants as well,” she said.

“And I think that’s a big area of concern for landlords, but there’s other ways to ensure that the landlord’s interests are protected outside of eviction as a last resort.”

She said it’s also important to keep encouraging investors as they are the ones who provide the majority of rental properties.

“What we don’t want to see is a situation where investing in property becomes less favourable due to tenants gaining excessive rights,” Ms Jennison said.

“So it’s finding the balance between what’s fair for both sides. 

“We’ve got a social responsibility to ensure that we as Australians are looking after each other.”

A Legislative Assembly Select Committee, chaired by Jenny Leong who introduced the Bill, has just been established to examine the Bill. 

The Committee is calling for submissions by selected stakeholders.

The general public can provide their feedback via an online survey before the 26th of June.

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