The NSW Labor Housing campaign noted the extent of the housing crisis in NSW – with large numbers of households in housing stress; a large and growing social housing waiting list and falling housing ownership rates. The regional housing crisis was called out – especially for renters.
Key commitments by NSW Labor to address these issues included:
- establishing a new affordable and social housing delivery agency (Homes NSW) incorporating the Land and Housing Corporation, Aboriginal Housing and DCJ Housing
- increasing the supply of affordable housing in NSW
- delivering higher density development around key transport and strategic hubs
- streamlining planning approval processes (with the Minister assuming much greater power)
- tasking the Greater Cities Commission with reviewing population and housing growth forecasts, recalibrating housing targets to take account of infrastructure such as Metro lines
- against the backdrop of a broader commitment to end the privatisation of public assets, introducing a mandatory requirement for 30 per cent of all homes built on surplus government land to be set aside for social, affordable and universal housing
- a $30 million Build-to-Rent pilot program for the South Coast
- stamp duty abolished outright for first homebuyers buying a home worth up to $800,000 with a concessional rate offered to first homebuyers purchasing a property up to $1,000,000.
There were a number of commitments regarding renters which we call out below, given their significance and urgency. Notably absent however was any targeted commitment to a large-scale social housing construction or acquisition program. This is something we have consistently called for, including within our alliances such as the Good Growth Alliance. This opinion piece Are you better off than four years ago?, written by our Senior Policy Officer Cathy Callaghan on behalf of the alliance, calls on the new NSW Government to step up, be accountable and take action to ensure that it creates a better life for everyone who lives here in this great state and for future generations.
NSW Government rental reform commitments a good start – time to act
A stubbornly high social housing waiting list (now over 57,000 households in NSW) has always served to remind us of the failings of the private rental market.
But new research out this week has demonstrated how far the rental crisis is reaching, with essential workers priced out of their communities across Australia.
In Sydney, essential workers are spending between 66% and 91% of their income on rent. Workers in aged care, child care, hospitality, postal, meat packing and freight are among the hardest hit spending most of their pay packets on rent. According to the report, those on the lowest awards would be left with around $20 a day after paying rent, based on the capital city average.
NSW Labor Government rental reform commitments
- ending ‘no grounds’ evictions – to be replaced by a set of ‘reasonable grounds’
- establish a Rental Commissioner to be an ‘advocate and voice’ for renters
- make NSW tenancy laws more pet friendly
- introduce portable bonds
- better regulate rent bidding
- undertake a review of NCAT (the Tribunal)
- ensure renters’ data and personal information is stored securely, and better protect against data breaches
- 1 million in additional funding for Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services and 5-year contract terms
Implementation of the various reforms promised by the incoming NSW Government will be a very important step towards making life as a renter fairer and more sustainable. But as our Senior Policy Officer Cathy Callaghan noted in this Sydney Morning Herald article this week, while implementation of reforms like the removal of No Grounds Evictions would “take some heat out of the market”, NSW has very few mechanisms for “keeping a lid on what seems to be some pretty outrageous (rent) increases”. She pointed to the rental cap policy implemented in the ACT, which limits rent increases to 110 per cent of inflation as measured by the consumer price index, as being a reasonable approach for NSW to consider.
Along with the Tenants Union of NSW (TU) we see the implementation of the Rental Commissioner as an urgent priority for the new government. We also congratulate the TU leadership, members and allies for their decades’ long advocacy on behalf or renters and for the great success in securing multi-party support for broadscale rental reform in NSW.