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State government undertakes to improve renters' rights in the new year

State Government undertakes to improve renters rights in the new year

The state government promised to legislate in the new year to improve renters' rights and security following a promise by the state opposition to ban "no grounds" evictions and limit the frequency of rent rises if elected.

Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said on Wednesday that the state government has been developing a package of legislation to improve renters' rights that would be introduced into parliament in the new year.

"No grounds evictions, retaliatory evictions, all these things are currently undermining renters' rights in NSW," Mr Kean said. "We want to make life fairer and better for renters in NSW.

"We're currently working on a comprehensive plan to provide renters in NSW with more rights."

Mr Kean declined to rule in or out specific measures for inclusion in any package but said that the government was looking at all policy options.

Mr Kean has said reforms under consideration include making the fees associated with breaking a lease fairer, improving tenants' rights to access repairs and maintenance and better disclosure of lease condition prior to signing.

But the Greens' Housing spokeswoman and MP for Newtown, Jenny Leong, urged the government to act before year's end, a period she described as the traditional eviction season for renters.

"Renting has gone from being a transitional form of housing for young people, to being a mainstream reality for people across all age groups, and all political persuasions," she said.

"Many people are renting for longer, including families with children, who have not yet been able to buy a home".

Labor announced on Wednesday, following a resolution of its state conference, that if it wins government in 2019 it will enact a range of policy measures to entrench renters' rights including banning "no grounds" evictions and introducing minimum lease periods of one year and limiting rental rises to once-per-year.

Mr Kean accused the opposition of hypocrisy saying that the party had, in government in 2010, removed the rights of renters to appeal against unfair lease terminations.

"They bragged that it was a big win for landlords," he said. "What I'm about is making sure that renters get a fair go in this state; we'll look at all options to make that happen."

Following a 2016 review of rental legislation by the Fair Trading department the state government has made the system for governing rental bonds more open and transparent and requiring notices and documents be served to renters electronically.

third of Australian households rent and more than 40 per cent of those have been in the rental market more than 10 years.

In some suburbs in Sydney's inner-ring that figure can rise to twice as much.

A 2017 survey by consumer group Choice found that renters lived with widespread anxiety with one-in-five fearing eviction and nearly 10 per cent being evicted on a "no grounds" basis at least once.

Article by James Robertson appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald