MIA housing experts question benefits of Labor's plan to abolish no grounds evictions

A  proposal to make it much harder for landlords to evict their tenants may end up disadvantaging the very people the change is supposed to help, say MIA housing experts. 

NSW Labor have pledged to abolish ‘no grounds evictions’ from tenancy laws, meaning landlords could only get rid of their tenants if they give a reason – with a list of grounds for lease termination specified under law. 

“You can’t lose your job without being given a reason. So why in 2017 is it still possible for you to be thrown out of your home without grounds?” Labor MP Daniel Mookhey asked. 

Under current NSW law, a landlord can evict a tenant without giving them a reason, provided they give 90 days notice.

NSW Labor also proposes making 12 months the default tenancy length, introducing five-year tenancies and limiting rent reviews to once per year. 

While the proposals are designed to protect renters from the threat of homelessness, Deb Longhurst, who works in Griffith youth homelessness sector, is skeptical about the impact they’ll have in this region. 

“While there is a finite number of properties available for rent and even less affordable properties for young people and welfare recipients, I can’t see a massive change for young people, but I guess time will tell”.

“My concern would be there may be less movement in the rental sector and unless there is a glut of available properties it may prove to be detrimental to our clients as well as itinerant workers”.

Ms Longhurst’s concerns were echoed by Matt Zerafa, a property manager at Griffith Real Estate. 

“If every tenancy is one to five years, you won’t get the turnover of tenancies for new people entering the market”. 

Mr Zerafa said the main problem for Griffith renters is there’s hardly anywhere to rent, with vacancies hovering at one per cent.

“What they really need to do is encourage more investment in Griffith to boost the supply”. 

He also said longer term tenancies may actually hurt the most disadvantaged

“Three and six month leases can help people who don’t have best references, as there’s less risk for all concerned. If the landlord has to rent out their property for one to five years, he’ll want someone perfect”. 

NSW Labor though, see their proposed changes as overdue. 

“Labor’s plan will bring rental rules into the 21st century for all Riverina Families,” Mr Mookhey said. 

“We see more families in the wider Riverina region renting than ever before, and they deserve modern laws”.

Around 30 per cent of Griffith residents are currently renting their properties.