Tenancy organisations call for reform
Tenancy organisations urge reform. Image: Canva
  • Tenancy organisations say National Cabinet should begin key reforms to address housing crisis
  • Housing and tenancy representatives say skyrocketing rent has created instability
  • Suggested reforms include higher energy efficiency standards and an end to no cause terminations

National housing and tenancy organisations are imploring the National Cabinet to strengthen renters’ rights to ameliorate the country’s housing affordability challenges.

Organisations such as the National Association of Tenant Organisations, National Shelter, Everybody’s Home, and Better Renting, are urging the National Cabinet to implement key reforms to increase security for the growing number of long term renters.

An end to no cause terminations

The National Association of Tenant Organisations Spokesperson Leo Patterson Ross says to demonstrate the seriousness of reform efforts, an end to no cause terminations is vital.

“Governments expect renters to do the heavy lifting in ensuring tenancy laws are followed,” Ross said.

“But renters aren’t given the tools to do this – in most jurisdictions, landlords can kick out renters when they have done nothing wrong.

“Governments need to create an environment where renters have safe, stable and affordable homes.”

Ross added that as long as a rented home is available for rent and the renter has honoured their contract, they should be able to expect to stay and that their landlord also adheres to the contract.

“We hear every day from people who are worried about their ability to keep themselves and their family safe and housed as their current and future homes are at risk if they speak up,” he said.

Stabilising rent prices

National Shelter Chief Executive Officer Emma Greenhalgh says reforms to stabilise rent prices should be a top priority.

“We are seeing households being placed in the unenviable position of having to decide whether to try and absorb a substantial rent increase to maintain a roof over their heads and forgo food, medicines, and other essentials,” she said.

“Many households are not able to afford these rent increases and end up sleeping in cars or tents.”

Greenhalgh said this results in insecure housing and moving for multiple families, which ends up complicating access to schools, employment and other services.

She added there is particular concern about the long-term consequences of this instability on children.

Energy efficiency standards for rental homes

Better Renting Executive Director Joel Dignam says many rentals offer little more than mouldy walls and a leaky ceiling.

“When people can’t afford to heat their homes, they end up paying rent for a place that is bitterly cold and barely liveable,” he said.

“This drives up power costs and makes people struggle through winter with a cough that never seems to go away.”

According to Dignam, setting minimum standards will allow renters to keep their homes at a comfortable temperature while reducing the cost of living.

He added that Ministers have a responsibility to consult with renters in the creation of these reforms.

“People renting have important expertise on what’s going wrong with the current system and renters’ voices must be heard in helping to shape a solution.”

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