Rental Reforms – National Update

Rental Reforms – National Update

Demand for minimum housing standards for the growing number of tenants in Australia has resulted in rental reforms being rolled out state by state. Now all states and territories are on board, albeit at different stages of the process. So, what’s the latest in your state/territory?

Based on the last Census, 31% of Australians rent and this percentage is growing as housing affordability declines. Minimum housing standards for rental properties clarify and protect the basic rights of tenants to live in a home that is habitable and safe.

South Australia and Tasmania were the first in Australia to jump on board with rental reforms, implementing the changes from as early as 2013. NSW, Victoria and the ACT have all recently undergone legislated changes. And Queensland, WA and the NT are currently reviewing their legislations.

Current status of rental reforms by state/territory*:

NSW – Changes to residential tenancy laws come into effect on 23 March 2020 with amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (the Act) and the new Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 (the new Regulation).

VIC – The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 was passed in September 2018 and included more than 130 reforms. Some changes to the renting laws have been implemented with other changes due to take place from July 2020

QLD – The consultation process closed 28 December 2019 and the community feedback received will inform future policy decisions made by the Government to ensure they get the tenancy law reforms right.

SA – The Residential Tenancies (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2013 has been in place since late 2013.

WA – The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (WA) is now under review and the public consultation process is open. Submissions close 1 May 2020.

TAS The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 is in force.

NT – The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 is in force.

ACT – Changes to residential tenancy laws came into effect in November 2019.

Changes governments have pushed for in rental reforms include:

  • Limiting the frequency of rent increases
  • Having protections in place for those experiencing family or domestic violence
  • Preventing retaliatory eviction*
  • Providing a home that is deemed habitable (structurally sound with adequate lighting, ventilation, plumbing and drainage)
  • Making it easier for tenants to get repairs and maintenance actioned
  • Allowing pets while establishing safeguards for landlords
  • Caps on bonds
  • Set fees for breaking a lease
  • Allowing tenants to make minor modifications, such as installing security measures or modifications to improve health and safety in the home

* According to a survey conducted by Choice and leading tenancy groups in 2018, 7 in 10 tenants avoid making repairs and maintenance requests for fear that it could result in a rental increase, while 5 in 10 feared it could result in unfair eviction.

Putting it all into perspective

While the reforms have caused some concern in our industry because of the perception that they are overly skewed in favour of the tenant, it is important to put the reasons behind the reforms into perspective. The fact that more Australians are renting today means there is a need to regulate the sector. And at the end of the day, a growing rental population is good news for investors. So there are benefits for all stakeholders:

  • Tenants will be provided with greater assurance of safer, more secure and stable housing as well as simpler processes to manage maintenance and disagreements.
  • Landlords will benefit from having longer leases in place and greater stability in the market.
  • Property Managers will benefit from simpler, clearer legislation, which will flow on to better relationships with both landlords and tenants.