As you may have realised by now, the law in NSW for share housing is inadequate when it comes to dealing with complex share housing situations.
The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 excludes a large number of people living in share houses who have oral agreements only. The Act also excludes boarders and lodgers and people in student accommodation. Although the Boarding Houses Act 2012 has introduced some protections for boarding house residents, there are still a large number of people not covered by either law.
For these renters it can be difficult and expensive to navigate a complicated legal system to work out the right jurisdiction to take their matter to. The result is there are very few realistic options to pursue their rights, as there is often no fast and affordable forum available.
It is clear the Act needs amendments so it can deal effectively with share housing.
Legislation needs to cover anyone paying rent where they continue to be excluded from the Residential Tenancies Act.
Renters in shared living arrangements often experience eviction with no notice, rent increases with no notice, poor living conditions due to a failure to do repairs and landlords not returning bond money. There should be some minimum standards such as:
• A minimum notice period for termination;
• Four weeks’ notice of a rent increase;
• Bond to be lodged with Renting Services;
• A procedure to deal with uncollected goods;
• Disputes to be heard at NCAT.
These types of standards covering all people who rent would not be arduous for landlords and would create a much fairer system for renters that are often in no position to insist that the above be included in their agreements.
Failing to set minimum standards would do nothing to prevent the type of targeting of international students or other vulnerable groups in search of affordable accommodation, in lodging and sub-letting.
If you want to find out more about share housing campaigns and how you can be involved, you can find the latest information at our website: www.rlc.org.au or follow us on twitter http://bit.ly/sT9quL.
You can also write to your local Member of Parliament or to the Minister for Fair Trading asking for an amendment to section 10 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, which is the section that excludes sub-tenants from the Act.
You can find the Minister’s contact details at: https://www.nsw.gov.au/your-government/cabinet
You can find your local Member at: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/members/pages/all-members.aspx