Outrage: no-grounds evictions continue

THE NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation has labelled amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act as “sweeping reforms for tenants’ rights”.

There are some good improvements contained within the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018, which has been passed. For example, allowing tenants and landlords to request Fair Trading to investigate claims relating to damage or repairs and limiting rent increases to once per year are both improvements.

But there is one key change that is missing from the Bill.  The amendments do not include a ban on no-grounds evictions.

No-grounds evictions mean that renters can be evicted for no reason. For people with a fixed term lease, this means at the end of their 6 or 12 months lease. But people with a month-to-month agreement could be evicted at any time without the landlord needing to give a reason.

No-grounds evictions can make tenants reluctant to exercise their full rights due to fear of retaliatory eviction. For example, they might not insist on necessary repairs or maintenance.

A necessary amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act is, therefore, to ban no-grounds evictions and replace them with a range of reasonable-grounds-for-terminating a tenancy agreement.

This isn’t unrealistic. Last September, Victoria tightened its laws on no-grounds evictions.

Other changes made in Victoria set a good example for NSW as well. For example, in Victoria landlords can no longer unreasonably refuse tenants to keep pets.

Overall, the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018 contains some improvements, but what’s proposed is a far cry from “sweeping reform”.