Renters and renting – long overdue attention being paid

While we don’t like rent bidding, we’re more than happy to see ‘policy reform bidding’ – parties competing with each other to provide much greater support to renters and renting. 
We’ve been pleased to see a number of announcements from various parts of the political spectrum regarding renters’ rights.
In December, the NSW Government announced a ‘ban’ on solicited rent bidding. Minister for Fair Trade Victor Dominello announced new regulation that now requires real estate agents to advertise a rental property with a fixed price – not with a price range or “by negotiation”. According to the Minister’s media release, real estate agents are now prohibited from inviting, suggesting or inducing a prospective tenant to offer an amount higher than the advertised rent for the property.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that solicited rental bidding will be outlawed in NSW.
Photo: Dom Perrottet/Facebook

Like many in the sector, we were pleased to see this reform but recognise that there is a key loophole: while real estate agents will be banned from asking renters to bid higher than a property’s listing price, it will still allow applicants themselves to offer more. In the midst of a full-blown rental crisis, we hope to see landlords adhere not just to the letter of the law, but the spirit of it. Our CEO John Engeler recently commented on this in this news article.

“Our call is to the landlords of NSW. People looking for rental properties are desperate. Please don’t trade on that.”

“Just because the law will continue to allow you to accept higher bids doesn’t mean you have to encourage the practice.”

John Engeler, CEO Shelter NSW
Source: Rent bidding ban to be imposed across NSW ( 17 December 2022

The NSW Labor Opposition has announced a range of renting policy reforms. These include: the replacement of No Grounds Evictions with Reasonable Grounds; the creation of a Portable Bond Scheme; changes to make it easier to own pets and the creation of a Rental Commissioner with a reasonably wide remit. You can read more about these in a document accessible from this Leader of the Opposition website.

NSW Labor Opposition Renting Roundtable 12 January, 2023 – assembled group of housing and tenant advocates including Shelter NSW Senior Policy Officer, Cathy Callaghan. 

Senior Policy Officer Cathy Callaghan was very happy to attend a recent Renting Roundtable hosted by Opposition Leader Chris Minns and Shadow Ministers Courtney Houssos and Rose Jackson. It was very sobering to hear tenant advocates speak of the stress of working in the sector – with a large majority of recently evicted tenants quickly entering homelessness. As one noted to the MPs in the room, ‘go check out any of the beachside car parks along the coast on any given night. There are a lot of people including families living in their cars”.