Push for end to no grounds eviction in NSW rental market

Newtown MP and Greens housing spokeswoman Jenny Leong. PICTURE: James Alcock
Newtown MP and Greens housing spokeswoman Jenny Leong. PICTURE: James Alcock

THE number of people renting in Newcastle now outnumber home owners, and advocates in parliament want the shift in demographics recognised by introducing reforms to the system to remove so-called no grounds evictions.

Data from the 2016 Census reveals that the inner suburbs of Newcastle are made up of a majority of renters, with 52 per cent – or 2500 people - in the suburbs of Newcastle, The Hill, Newcastle West and Cooks Hill now renting compared to the state average of 32 per cent.

And as house prices in the city continue to rise, the Census data also shows the Newcastle electorate has one of the highest proportions of renters in NSW outside of Sydney, with 39 per cent of people renting.

In NSW landlords can terminate tenancies without stating grounds for doing so as long as they provide 90-days notice. 

While the rule is favoured by landlords as providing “certainty that they can regain possession of their property”, tenant advocacy groups like the Hunter Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service say the rule results in renters “putting up with breaches of the agreement” because of “fear” of no grounds termination. 

The Berejiklian government is currently considering a review of NSW rental laws, and while a discussion paper released in June recommended making no changes to no grounds eviction powers there is growing pressure from the opposition and cross-bench for changes to the law.

At its state conference last month NSW Labor passed motions supporting the introduction of new protections for renters including a requirement for landlords to justify rent increases above the inflation rate and an end to no grounds evictions.

And the NSW Greens say they will propose amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act to give renters more security when the act is reviewed by parliament later this year.

“The review of NSW rental laws that is currently underway offers an opportunity to give renters more security and stability. Ending no grounds evictions is an immediate step that can be taken to help renters throughout this state,” Greens MP and housing spokeswoman Jenny Leong said.

“Large numbers of people in the Hunter are renting – but while you are renting you do not have the same kind of housing security as people who own their home. 

“When you are renting, you can be evicted for no reason, with just 90 days notice, and rents can be increased.”

It comes as the government considers the introduction of a “build to rent” sector of property development in NSW which would see investors build apartments to lease on a long-term or indefinite basis.