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‘A better deal for renters’: an update on Australia’s rental crisis

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has promised to secure ‘a better deal for renters’ through a collection of ambitious rental reforms.

To remedy rental unaffordability, national cabinet has committed to the implementation of nationwide minimum standards with respect to rent increases and no-fault evictions.

The proposed package of legislation is considered the most significant reform to the housing industry in a generation.

Rent Increases

Rental prices continue to skyrocket exponentially. For example, the Sydney suburb of Botany, located 12km south of the CBD, experienced a record 26% hike in rent prices within the past year. Australia-wide, median weekly rent has recently exceeded $600/week in most major cities. The Reserve Bank predicts the situation will only worsen to the detriment of renters in the coming 12-months.[1]

At the core of this issue is a supply shortage. Following the return of overseas migration and the intake of international students, Australia is poorly placed to cater to the rental demand. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the NSW Council of Social Service warned that ‘without government intervention, housing will continue to be unaffordable and insecure for many Australians’.

In June this year, the Freeze on Rent and Rate Increases Bill 2023 (Cth) (‘the Bill’) was introduced to the Senate as part of the government’s plan to improve renters’ rights. The Bill plans to place a freeze on unfettered rent prices nationwide, and gradually implement an annual limit on the number of rent increases permitted by landlords. The introduction of this Bill follows consistent advocacy from the Greens to protect renters from exposure to exorbitant prices.

Earlier this month the Senate passed the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill 2023 (Cth) (‘HAFF’). Under the HAFF, $10 billion will be dedicated to the construction of 30,000 new social and affordable homes including 4,000 for women and children at risk. Furthermore, the HAFF is designed to address housing shortages for vulnerable groups including women and children, remote Indigenous communities, and veterans at risk of homelessness.

No-fault evictions

Another key agenda item for national cabinet was the prospective ban on no-fault evictions. As it stands, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory have already legislated to this effect. New South Wales is similarly on track to enacting a ban. To achieve greater rental security Australia-wide, a national mandate of reasonable grounds for eviction is required.

In opposition to this reform, Western Australian Premier, Roger Cook, has warned it will inflict ‘unnecessary burden[s] on landlords’ and limit investor involvement in the housing market. Unlike the legislative advancements made in relation to rent increase, there is currently no concrete laws before parliament. It is therefore unclear whether national cabinet’s promises will translate into action in the upcoming future.

The above developments constitute a promising update for renters across Australia. The coming months will reveal how tangible of an impact these prospective reforms will have on the nearly one-third of Australians who are involved in the renting market.

For more information on rental rights and how they are expected to evolve, please contact our people:

Ron Zucker 0410 590 111

Eollyn Cortes 0478 727 395

Julia Zou 0426 670 202

[1] The Guardian, 15 August 2023.


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