NSW Renters May Soon Be Able To Install Picture Hooks Without Calling The Landlord First

    But the government isn't making it any easier to own pets.

    NSW renters – who make up a third of the state – would be able to install picture hooks without getting their landlord’s permission, and rental properties would have to meet lighting and structural standards, under changes to the state’s renting laws introduced to NSW parliament today.

    However landlords would still be able to evict tenants without giving a reason, meaning the bill falls short of the renting reforms passed by the Victorian parliament earlier this month.

    Minister for better regulation Matt Kean described the amendments in a statement as “common sense changes” that would “ensure properties are in a livable condition”.

    Other changes include the capping of rent increases to once per year, and a new system where renters and landlords can approach Fair Trading to look at repair requests or damage to a property and, if necessary, issue rectification orders.

    In order to be considered “fit for habitation”, rental properties would have to be structurally sound and have basic access to electricity and gas, adequate lighting and ventilation, and enough outlets for lighting, heating and appliances.

    Family violence victims would be able to break their leases without a penalty if they have a declaration from a doctor or a provisional AVO. They also won’t be liable for damage to property caused by someone else in a domestic violence situation. Instead, the perpetrator will have to pay.

    “Victims are protected from being listed on a tenancy database by agents or landlords where a debt or property damage arose because of a violent partner,” Kean added.

    While welcoming some of the reforms, Labor, the Greens and tenants’ advocates have criticised the government’s failure to tackle "no grounds" evictions.

    Ending these evictions “has to be the cornerstone of any rent policy”, shadow minister for innovation and better regulation Yasmin Catley told BuzzFeed News. “If your tenancy is not secure then you may as well throw the rest out the window.”

    “We know that landlords misuse this provision all the time, evicting tenants as retaliation for requesting repairs, or simply to increase the rent,” Greens MP and housing spokesperson Jenny Leong said of no grounds evictions in a statement.

    While the Victorian reforms made it easier to bring pets into a rental property, the NSW bill doesn’t address pets.

    The Greens will propose amendments that would require homes to have a kitchen, and would add minimum standards for mould removal, insulation and thermal efficiency.

    While Labor and the Greens say the bill doesn’t go far enough, they are likely to vote in favour of it.

    The bill was introduced today and debate has been adjourned for five days.

    Most of the reforms in the bill implement changes recommended by a statutory review of the Residential Tenancies Act, which was completed in 2016.