We’ve worked hard to get this far, but there’s work still to be done!
Along with renters and other supporters in the community, we have been campaigning with Make Renting Fair on our 6 demands for the last 18 months. And we’ve had good progress.
Let’s look at that progress, and then talk about ways to keep pushing. Consultation on the law reforms the new NSW Government committed to during the election is one good way. The Government is encouraging everyone to have their say about Improving NSW Rental Laws – and we have some resources to help you contribute!
The Consultation is only open until Friday COB so get in quick! However, the current consultation only addresses some of our campaign demands (and we know there are other ways to campaign than through a consultation).
In this blog we set out the state of play for our demands not addressed in the consultation. We outline what further commitments have been made by the new NSW Labor government and provide other resources to help you campaign in your community on the renting issues that matter to you
What policy changes are needed to start to Make Renting Fair?
We relaunched the Make Renting Fair campaign in October 2021, after the campaign took a COVID-imposed hiatus of a few years. While the original Make Renting Fair NSW campaign was tightly focussed on the key demand of ending ‘no grounds’ evictions, with the 2021 relaunch came an expanded set of priorities. Since 2021, ending ‘no grounds’ evictions has remained central to the campaign, but has been joined by 5 other policy solutions that, alongside ending ‘no grounds’ evictions, can go a long way to make renting fairer for the 1 in 3 people in NSW who rent our homes.
In late-2021 and early 2022, our community of renters shaped the Make Renting Fair’s four main campaign themes and 6 asks (our policy solutions). You told us the issues that matter most to you as renters, and the issues you wanted to campaign alongside us on. From the community, we heard:
"All renters need homes that are affordable, stable & secure, safe & healthy, and feel like home."
There are a huge variety of policy solutions that could bring us closer to that reality in NSW, but ultimately we landed on these 6:
Renters need homes that are affordable
- The NSW Government commits funds to build at least 5,000 new, additional homes each year for the next 10 years that are genuinely affordable, to begin to address NSW's current housing need. We should be aiming to have social housing homes make up at least 10% of our overall housing stock.
- Introduce fair limits and stronger protections against excessive rent increases in NSW tenancy law.
Renters need homes that are stable & secure
- Replace 'no grounds' evictions provisions in NSW tenancy law with 'reasonable grounds' identified through community consultation.
Renters need homes that are safe & healthy
- Introduce mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards for NSW rental homes
- Introduce mandatory minimum building standards that take account of universal design for general accessibility in the community for all new builds.
Renters need homes that feel like home
- Prohibit blanket 'no pets' clauses in NSW tenancy law.
Incredible work from NSW renters
Renters across NSW have made a huge effort campaigning for these solutions. Renters (and others dedicated to renting justice) have come to in-person events, actions and community stalls; joined regular campaign meetings to shape the direction of the campaign; taken part in social media days and weeks of action; shared renting stories to help persuade the public & decision-makers; joined various trainings (and helped develop those trainings!), spoken with decision-makers to advocate for these solutions, and much more.
The March 2023 election was the #RentersElection23. In response to the groundswell of renting campaigning from the community, the months leading up to the NSW election saw a range of exciting commitments announced by all major parties in relation to renting reform. This included – for the first time in NSW – cross-party support for ending ‘no grounds’ evictions for renters on periodic agreements.
Another of NSW Labor’s commitments ahead of the election was to create the role of a Rental Commissioner in NSW. Part of the Commissioner’s role would be to oversee the implementation of a range of other promised changes to the renting system.
Improving NSW rental laws consultation
The new NSW Rental Commissioner, Trina Jones, was announced earlier this month. Ahead of her start date, the NSW Government has opened a broad consultation on Improving NSW Rental Laws. The consultation, running until Friday (11 August), explores issues including evictions, pets, renters’ personal information, a portable bond scheme, rental affordability, and more. This means that three of the six Make Renting Fair policy solutions are up for public discussion and reform right now!
The consultation is a huge opportunity for renters and other interested members of the community to advocate for much-needed renting reforms There are three things that anyone in NSW can do right now to contribute to the consultation and help Make Renting Fair:
- Fill out the consultation survey – we’ve developed a survey guide to help you if anything is unclear.
- Use our submission template and your own experiences and views to email in a written submission
- Share information about the consultation and the resources we have developed, and encourage others to contribute, too!
We are optimistic that this consultation will lead to some really positive changes for the renters of NSW; reforms that have been hard fought for by the community for many years.
But, providing feedback to the consultation isn’t the only thing you can do!
Other renting issues
There are some other changes that need to be made to NSW renting law that aren’t within the scope of this consultation. This includes three of the Make Renting Fair policy solutions: energy efficiency standards in rental homes; accessible rental homes; and adequate investment in social housing.
Energy efficiency standards:
NSW, along with all other Australian jurisdictions, are currentlycollaborating on a ‘National Framework for Minimum Rental Requirements’. This Framework is critical for facilitating the implementation of rental energy efficiency standards across Australia. But the initial timeline for developing a framework and implementing it has blown out!
Alongside this, and separate to the National Framework, the NSW government has committed to starting consultation on improving energy efficiency in rentals some time this year. This will be an important opportunity to push for change in NSW.
For more information or to get involved, see the Healthy Homes for Renters campaign and Sydney Alliance' Voices for Power.
Strong advocacy from disability and housing advocates saw a win in this space - the National Construction Code now has mandatory minimum accessibility standards so that all new homes built according to the NCC must be built to LHA Silver accessibility standards. However (!) last year the previous NSW Government decided they would not commit to implementing this new requirement. We need to keep raising this issue with government.
For more information or to get involved see the Building Better Homes campaign.
Building more social housing:
Various commitments have been made by the NSW and Australian Governments, but the message needs to keep being sent that we need more social housing. And quickly! There’s a Senate Inquiry happening at the moment into the Worsening Rental Crisis in Australia. If you would like to contribute to the inquiry you can do so here.
Some of the other organisations doing work in this area include Everybody’s Home and Action for Public Housing.
You may also choose to raise these issues (or any other renting issue you’re passionate about) as a part of your written submission to the Improving NSW Rental Laws consultation!
Campaign in your community for rental reform
Progress on renting issues doesn’t just come from Governments deciding to make a change. Change is driven by the hard work of renters campaigning in your communities, sharing your stories with each other and the media, discussing and unpacking various renting issues, talking with your elected representatives, and pushing for the solutions you know we need.
We have developed several resources that can help any renter – or anyone interested in renting justice – to campaign in your own community on the renting issues that matter most to you: