State of Play in NSW – November 2022

The last month has seen a number of significant announcements and legislative milestones in NSW. These include the following:
Extending the age at which young people living in out of home care in NSW receive government support from age 18 to 21 years. This is a very welcome change and brings NSW into line with other states. (This structural flaw was noted in our advocacy for ‘scaling youth foyers in NSW‘ paper).

Property Tax Reform legislation introduced by the NSW Government.  
The proposal would provide first home buyers purchasing properties up to $1.5 million with:

  • a choice to pay an annual property tax instead of stamp duty and,
  • a requirement to move into the property within 12 months of purchase and
  • live in it continuously for at least 6 months.

The Government estimates these measures would offer support to about 97 per cent of all first home buyers, or about 55,000 people per year.
In line with National Shelter, Shelter NSW believes that the current system of stamp duty applied to property purchasers is inefficient, unfair in its burden on lower-income homebuyers and works to distort the housing market.
As such, Shelter NSW recommends this reform commence as soon and as broadly as possible but supports a gradual implementation (as per the ACT approach).
However, along with the Tenants’ Union of NSW and the St Vincent de Paul Society (non-government organisations involved in NSW Treasury’s Hardship Working Group) we have asked that the potential for longer-term unintended consequences on low-income households, including private renters and asset-rich but cash poor owners, be considered and mitigated.
The legislation was referred to a NSW Parliamentary Committee for a very quick review. You can read a joint letter from us in the inquiry submissions section. 

Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness amongst older people aged over 55 in NSW.
Homelessness and housing insecurity among older residents of NSW is a growing issue, with many people being pushed into crisis due to the failure of our housing system. The recent inquiry considered many submissions, including one from Shelter NSW (and as part of a combined NSW Ageing on the Edge Forum). Beyond the traditional observations made by many advocates about housing and homelessness, the inquiry also heard of disturbing cases of elder abuse – some connected to housing. The Inquiry report can be read here. There were three key committee recommendations that aligned with the Ageing on the Edge recommendation, namely that the NSW Government consider/investigate:

  • the establishment of a funded specialist housing information and support service for older people that comprises both an early intervention and crisis response, similar to the ‘Home at Last’ model in Victoria (rec 5). 
  • the costs and implications of lowering the age limit for access to the Housing Elderly Persons priority group from 80 years to 55 years, and from 55 years to 45 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • funding the construction of new social or community housing that is specifically allocated to older women and is appropriate to their health, safety and accessibility needs.

Rental and tenancy reform put on the agenda:

  • NSW Labor recently made an election commitment to end No Grounds Evictions and replace with a set of Reasonable Grounds; and create a mechanism for tenants to transfer their bond between. Both are detailed in this SMH article.

NSW Greens spokesperson for Renters Rights and Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP introduced proposed rental reform legislation (Residential Tenancies Amendment – Prohibiting No Grounds Evictions Bill 2022) into the NSW Parliament for urgent debate. At this stage it doesn’t seem that the bill will be debated.