RLC submission to the Review of the Residential Tenancies Act

It has been five years since the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) (RTA) came into force and it is now due for its five year statutory review.

In October 2015, NSW Fair Trading released a discussion paper and the Inner Sydney Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service (ISTAAS) at Redfern Legal Centre provided input to the review that focused on the following main areas (as well as comments on other areas):

Share Housing:

The RTA should be more inclusive: sub-tenants without written agreements should not be excluded from the RTA and occupancy principles should be expanded to protect other groups excluded from the RTA.

Domestic violence provisions:

There should be stronger protections in the RTA for people who experience domestic violence.

Security of tenure:

Security of tenure is key to balancing the rights of landlords and tenants. There should be better, clearer provisions about termination for rent arrears and retaliatory eviction. It should not be possible for a landlord to end an agreement for no reason.

Funding for tenancy services:

The Fair Trading paper asked whether a portion of the interest on rental bonds should be continued to be paid to tenants, or should this portion also be used to fund services for tenants? Interest on tenants' bonds already go towards tenancy services but they should receive increased funding to meet the increased demand for advice. Tenants should also receive an increase in interest from the bonds they pay.

As part of our submission we surveyed tenants who use our service, and over 60 community organisations, most of which deal with issues relating to tenancies on a daily basis. Their comments and responses are detailed throughout the submission.

At present NSW Fair Trading is reviewing all submissions and will conduct further targeted consultation on key issues. A report on the review will be submitted to the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation for tabling in Parliament by mid 2016. This is a good time to tell your local Member of Parliament what you think.

If you would like to be kept up to date and involved in the work done by Redfern Legal Centre in this area you can subscribe to our Community Worker emails.

Read the submission made by Redfern Legal Centre here.