Nineteen community organisations have come together to warn the NSW Government’s proposed rent bidding legislation will spark legal rental auctions and further push up prices.
In a letter to the Legislative Assembly Select Committee on the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Rental Fairness) Bill 2023 co-ordinated by Homelessness NSW and the NSW Tenants’ Union, the organisations including NCOSS, Shelter NSW and Redfern Legal Centre warn the current proposal to ban secret rent bidding will actually make the situation worse by encouraging a transparent, regulated rental auction process.
Across NSW, vacancy rates are at an all-time low, 36 per cent of tenants are in rental stress and renters are continuing to face rising weekly rents – with the latest data showing a 25 per cent increase in median weekly rentals since late 2020.
The situation is particularly acute in Sydney where rents have soared 24.3 per cent in the past 12 months, a higher figure than the Australian capital city average of 20.6 per cent, according to SQM.
In their letter to committee members scrutinising the bill, the organsiations warn of possible unintended consequences.
“The current draft legislation requires owners and agents to notify applicants of other offers that are higher than the advertised price but does not prevent them from accepting such offers,” the letter reads.
“This means that rent bidding can still occur, and that tenants can still be pressured to pay more than they can afford. We have become aware that the recent media on the practice has also led to increased bids from prospective tenants.”
The organisations are calling for changes to ban rent bidding by preventing agents from accepting a price above the listing price.
Homelessness NSW CEO Trina Jones - who will give evidence at the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on the legislation on Friday - said rent bidding must be banned.
“Right now people in our state are being forced to live in tents or cars because they cannot afford rising rents.
“While designed to strengthen tenants’ rights, the current draft of the legislation will have unintended consequences of actually normalising rent bidding, increasing stress for renters at a time of crisis across the state.
“Preventing rent bidding altogether is a simpler and more effective solution that would benefit both tenants and landlords by reducing stress and administration.”
Charlie Moore: 0452 606 171