NSW Residential Tenancy Bill 2010 looks like being pushed through Parliament

In a decision that is set to impact approx. 1 in 4 people within New South Wales, the new Residential Tenancy Bill 2010 has now been passed without amendment by the Lower House of the NSW Parliament and has just been introduced into the Upper House.

Earlier this week I posted an article on apmasphere (a popular Australian Property Management online forum) about REINSW forces changes to NSW Government’s Residential Tenancies Bill, but after speaking with Sam Kremer, Legal Counsel from the REINSW earlier today it appears that the bill looks like being pushed through Parliament in its current form.

The NSW Residential Tenancy Bill 2010 is an extremely important piece of legislation for the real estate industry and it seems strange that after so much time and effort has been dedicated to creating the new bill that the Government sees fit to push it through in its current form without providing reasonable time.

The NSW Government have only provided “four or five days to read and understand the many changes in the final bill”, not much time for  stakeholders and industry bodies to review the recent overhaul to the original bill proposed back in Novemebr 2009, which was labelled as “the biggest attack on landlords in NSW’s history” by the Property Owners Association of NSW.

It’s been 23 years since the last NSW Residential Tenancy Bill was passed back in 1987 and now after 5 years in the making, why is there a huge push to pass the newly amended bill through Parliament right now? Especially, after providing very little opportunity for stakeholders to review the amendments and their possible repercussions.

In her speech before passing the motion that the bill be agreed to in principal, Hon. Virginia Judge, the Minister for Fair Trading and Minister for The Arts said ” the primary aim of the Residential Tenancies Bill 2010 is to rewrite and overhaul the current legislation. As I have outlined, the bill will bring the regulation of residential tenancies up to date and in line with modern industry practices. It will remove archaic and redundant provisions. It will also make more than 100 reforms, which have arisen from a review of the existing legislation—laws that have remained largely the same for more than 20 years.

All the amendments contained in the bill have been the subject of extensive consultation with individual landlords, agents and tenants; community groups who have an interest in this area; those who provide assistance and advice at the coalface every day to those with a tenancy problem; the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, which has the difficult job of trying to resolve tenancy disputes when things go wrong; and peak bodies such as the Tenants Union of NSW, the Real Estate Institute and the Property Owners Association.”

In his Parliamentary speech Shadow Minister for Fair Trading Greg Aplin MP said, “The draft of the Residential Tenancies Bill 2009 was a written expression of a philosophical view that tenants can prosper on their own, without considering the impact on their landlords; that the best way to achieve gains for tenants is to bludgeon their landlords into accepting unreasonable and, frankly, humiliating conditions; and that a government can seek to carry on with its plans in ignorance of the warning bells tolling loudly in the rental marketplace.”

It appears that the government have finally decided to sit up and take some notice to their constituents/stakeholders and have done an about-face on the original draft bill but with so many amendments it appears that the new bill is being pushed through Parliament fairly swiftly without allowing time for much consideration from the people who helped the Government get the bill back on track to what it should be.”

Greg Aplin also went on to say, “Despite all 1,600 submissions and many years of review, it still looks like the Government simply went to sleep on the couch and let the process of review roll over the top of it. That is, until the Government was woken up with a bucket of cold water thrown by various stakeholders—and its own members of Parliament who have heard the cries from their own shocked constituents. Unfortunately, this lack of early focus by the Government meant that everyone else had to waste time and emotional energy on a draft bill, which was a practical mess. It is dangerous to create many new rights, which are poorly expressed.

Despite a 23-year wait for reform, stakeholders now have just four or five days to read and understand the many changes in the final bill. This is an impossible task. The number of drafting errors and other faults, as indicated, should be sufficient notice to the Government to let the debate continue until the spring sittings. Several stakeholder committees are struggling with the ridiculous haste, suddenly come upon them, of seeking input from their members and responding with due attention to this complex bill. Until that time, the bell will continue to toll for thee.”

MP Ray Williams said, “I do not believe that this bill is much different from the draft bill. The Government has taken a long time to introduce it and the draft bill certainly sent shock waves through the community. I do not believe there was a fear campaign, although I do believe that many of the mum and dad investors were frightened about what could happen to their properties. It has been recently reported that one in 10 couples in New South Wales has a negatively geared investment property. That is a huge number of people and it represents an enormous percentage of the private rental market. Tenants NSW suggests that they are amateur landlords and that they should be removed from the market. I do not believe that we could provide adequate residential accommodation across this State if it were not for those many hundreds of thousands of mum and dad investors. The New South Wales Government could never provide enough accommodation given reports indicating that there are 27,000 homeless people in this State.”

MP Craig Baumann said,”Like so much of the legislation dreamt up by this struggling Government, the Residential Tenancies Bill 2010, when presented in draft form, was abhorrent. It highlighted once again just how incompetent and out of touch this Government has become. Fortunately, the most hideous elements of the draft bill have been duly dispatched thanks to the New South Wales Opposition, but not before the Government managed to upset, in some way, numerous elements of the real estate industry, terrify landlords, and waste the time of many stakeholders in the rental and tenancy industry as they attempted to grasp this bill. In the first instance, I condemn the Government for this short sightedness. “

MP Michael Richardson said, “One has only to read the statement issued by the Property Owners Association of New South Wales at the time the draft bill was released. The association described the bill as “the biggest attack on landlords in NSW’s history”. The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales was equally scathing in its condemnation of the draft legislation. Therefore, I am pleased that the Minister listened to the concerns expressed and that she amended that dangerous piece of legislation to make it far more reasonable and balanced, as the Minister herself said she had done in her agreement in principle speech.

The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales said in a release dated 4 June 2010 that is was pleased the Government had listened to its concerns and made key changes. However, the institute indicated that it still had some concerns about the legislation. It said that the Government was trying to rush the legislation through without sufficient time for proper consultation. I suspect that that is because the Government has made so many changes to the legislation that the full impact of those changes still needs to be considered. Some of the changes the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales pressured the Government to make include abandoning a proposal to give tenants the right to break a fixed term tenancy agreement during the fixed term in return for payment of a “break fee”.

As the member for Albury said, essentially that would have meant that that overruled the contract law and the tenant could simply tear up the contract, pay the “break fee”, and walk out the door. The institute also pressured the Government to scrap the compulsory proposal to cap a landlord’s damages, including loss of rent, if a tenant abandoned rented premises, and to maintain the current obligation on a landlord to mitigate their loss in such circumstances. That is only sensible. The Real Estate Institute further pressured the Government to provide greater certainty for landlords when terminating periodic tenancies, and to further limit its proposals to allow tenants to make minor changes to the landlord’s property or to sublet the property without the landlord’s consent. However, the institute still opposes these two proposals in principle and will continue to lobby against them. Allowing tenants to make minor changes to landlords’ property was the area of greatest concern in the bill for the Real Institute of New South Wales and the Property Owners’ Association of New South Wales. Having discussed this with some of my colleagues on this side of the House, I remain sceptical that the bill will encourage more people to invest in residential property and ease the rental shortage in this city that is pushing rents to unprecedented levels. Nevertheless, it is significantly better than the draft bill put out last November. “

MP Ms Clover Moore said, “given its length, I believe the bill should sit on the table for at least 28 days to enable members to consult with their communities. I also believe that the scare campaign initiated by the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales is unfounded and unhelpful. Most protections under this bill will help landlords and the modest improvements for tenants, such as making it easier to get a picture hook fixed in a living room, will not drive landlords out of the market.

The Tenants Union refers to data by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute that shows a very weak link between rental investment and tenancy law reform. Research shows that only 7 per cent of landlords have ever considered tenancy laws and that rental property investment is driven by the ability to negative gear and by potential property value gains. Many people consider property a safer investment than stocks or shares, and this bill will not lead to an exodus of landlords from the rental market.”

If the bill gets passed through the Upper House in its current form it will be interesting to see how many amendments will need to be made & how the new bill and its changes will affect agents and investment within NSW.

I understand that a decision needs to be made sometime but rather than pushing the bill through swiftly, I wish the government understood how changes in legislation (both small or large) impacts agents/property managers not only in the overall management and enforcement of tenancy laws but also in the day to day running of an agency.

It would be a pointless exercise to have all the Property Managers/Agents brought up to speed with the new legislation only to find that the Government have to make lots of amendments to the bill again shortly afterwards.

If you’d like to see more of the Parliamentary discussion around this important issue check out…

http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/8bd91bc90780f150ca256e630010302c/77ee8c5495bba52eca25773c0080fbcb?OpenDocument

and

http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/8bd91bc90780f150ca256e630010302c/4bd8828c7bb26479ca25773d0083c00c?OpenDocument

Minister for Fair Trading, REINSW, Residential Tenancy Bill 2010

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18 Responses to NSW Residential Tenancy Bill 2010 looks like being pushed through Parliament

  1. Robert Simeon June 10, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    We recently sold our “complaints department” so we are one hundred per cent rental free so that we can better focus on sales. Such legislation confirms that we made the right decision as the tightness of the rental market leaves more unhappy than happy – brand damaging. I saw on A Current Affair last night that in NSW that for every 1,000 rental properties only 11 are currently available for lease.

    When you start receiving telephone calls from past vendors arguing that we are being to hard with rental increases on their siblings – made our resolve to remove this division from our business model. Now everyone is much happier 🙂

  2. Rachael Lord June 11, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    “Complaints department” too true! We are also rent free and have never looked back!

  3. Sal Espro June 11, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    Interesting comment, Robert. It is a hard decision to make given it’s the only real asset of a re business but understandable given your reasoning.

  4. Silvana June 11, 2010 at 12:34 am #

    Another example of a Government

  5. James June 16, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    Greg, I think the statement that ” REINSW forces changes to NSW Government

  6. James June 16, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    Thought it would be easier if I posted the paragraph…..

    All interested stakeholders have had ample opportunity to have their say. Everything that can be said about these reforms has been said, to the point where on some issues the debate is now going round in circles. The Government is not going to release draft bill after draft bill until such time as all stakeholders say the drafting is perfect. With such a large piece of legislation, that day will never come. I note the suggestion from the Real Estate Institute [REI] of New South Wales to delay debate on the bill until the spring session of Parliament. Time is clearly not an issue for the REI. Despite being granted a three-week extension to respond to the draft bill, the REI could only manage to put in what they called a preliminary submission. That was in early January. The Government is still waiting for its final submission, but I will not hold my breath. Seeking to delay debate on this bill is merely an attempt to kill off the reforms under another name.

  7. Greg Vincent June 16, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    James, this is yet another piece of political spin by the Government. The initial draft was an absolute disgrace & a complete waste of tax payers money and sent shock waves amongst the landlords in NSW.

    The Hon Ms. Virginia Judge neglected to say that the 3 week extension that was granted after they had provided a ridiculous time for consultation on the original draft. (If I remember correctly the REINSW & other industry bodies were given about 21 days to comment on the proposed bill). At that point the Government looked set to push the original draft through prior to Christmas.

    There were so many floors in the original draft that the REI and other bodies not only had to review the draft bill & provide the recommendations, but they also had to go through the process of lobbying to try to get the Government to realise that they had made huge mistakes in the draft bill.

    The issue this time around is that, yes they have agreed in principal and made numerous amendments to the new bill (an admission that they stuffed up originally) but the issue is that I have it on good authority that they will have to make further amendments to the new bill almost immediately. Even MP Ms Clover Moore said,

  8. James June 16, 2010 at 4:46 am #

    Greg,

    I am well aware of the issues faced by real estate practitioners, tenants and landlords under the bill.

    It is not a question of whether or not the bill should go through, it is too late. Submission time has long passed.

    In relation to “another piece of political spin by the Government” why would they have singled out the REINSW if it were not true and why did the REINSW not submit their commentary in the time frame that not only them but other stakeholders were given.

    Particularly given then their resources and their supposed political action network and their claim for have forced the changes.

  9. Sal Espro June 16, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    The REI may have been too caught-up in the launch of a fees-generating advertising and data sales portal to be focussing on agents and landlords concerns (from the old, off-line economy?).

    Cynical old Sal

  10. Gary June 16, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    I am one of those “amateur landlords”, I own a few rental properties. I pay a lot of money to property managers to look after my properties, find tenants, collect rent etc. I rely on them to keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations and keep ahead of new developments like the new Residential Tenancy Bill.
    When the labour party decides to give some more goodies to their faithful voters at my expense, I expect my property manager to try and stop it. No doubt my property manager is a member of the REI and pays them good money to represent his interests when the government tries to bring in unfair legislation like this.
    Something is very wrong when the organisation that he is paying, with my money, can’t even find the time to put in a proper submission in 21 days! Thats 3 weeks ! How long does it take to put a few thoughts on paper and stick it in the mail box ?
    So with a corrupt government, intent on giving away MY money, and controlling MY property, and nobody prepared to do anything about it, all my property is now on the market. Someone else can have the problems.

  11. PaulD June 16, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    James,
    So enlighten us James. This is a garbage piece of legislation. How do you defend it ?

  12. James June 16, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    PaulD, It is not a case of defending it, the government go though a consultation process and we may not all agree with the process but it is what we have to deal with.

    A quick review shows several changes to the draft and a softening on several contentious points.

    I think Sal got the point that I was trying to make.

  13. Greg Vincent June 16, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    James, if you don

  14. Niel Edgley June 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    After perusing the so called Bill regarding changes to the Tenancies act, I must add my pce. I am considered a precious and outstanding tenant of 10 yrs by my (same)landlord/owner of my previous and current residence, the original lease agreement was at an agreed rent with minimal mutual agreed rent rise only,that I maintain the premises, I have done just that incl. fully repainting int.and ext. fixed own smoke alarms, fixed minor plumbing problems, roof repairs, replaced damaged guttering all side of hse, cleared yards of pre- existing rubbish, put in lawn and gardens, cleaned out and relined and painted garage including constructing the back wall and door of garage as it was removed by the previous bad tenant, the original real estate co. managing the tenancy was aware of and praised the agreement, the Takeover real estate co have in the last 3 yrs raised my rent over $3000 per yr (I believe in an attempt to squeeze me out financially) more than the previous (not incl of rent payment charges which take rent over and above agreed rate) into their bank at 1.1%) even tho” I still maintain the premises in the same manner i agreed upon,Incl provision of all materials, I understand there are bad tenants,but what i would like to know is, where does the Real Estate Intitute have any respect towards tenants such as myself and others like me, they deliberately raise property values by raising rents yet rents should be lower due to the high Aussie dollar, any changes to the Rental Ts Act are usually for and on behalf of Real Estate under a blanket of deceitfull non functional reform for the average consumer. Niel Edgley.

  15. Niel Edgley June 16, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    2nd Posting.
    The revising of parts only of the rental tenancies act does little to improve the quality of rights for either the Tenant Or The Landlord, the changes are Disgracefullly inadequite in whatever provision they repesent.

  16. Niel April 11, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    What Landlords never seem to find a word to whinge about, is the fact that after recieving rent with periodic rises which are out of match to the economy,for considerable periods from tenants, who in majority are abiding and loyal,(myself being compared to the tenant from Heaven) the property remains belonging in full to the the owner landlord,who now, regardles of his/hers so called doing their tenants a favour-Tut Tut!,can seel the property without notice and thence the new owner can give 7 day’s notice to the tenant, that is a legal fact, the economy which is depicted via “REINSW” reports and or surveys are refabricated to suit the real estate industry, it is rarely a true current estimate, and is usually designed and rostered to be released months if not longer after the assessment is carried out and so are in reality a bogus out of date estimates and predictions, any complaints to REINSW is dealt with in favour usually of the agent etc,this is the outcome of my own personal and very watchfull survey of the real estate market, especially Rental markets, the old reasoning that an agent can take care of a rental property better and with more security than the private rental property owner is a deceitful lie,the tenant with an agent ends up paying a considerable amount more than agreed rent because of the forced use of costly payment methods such as Deft etc, of which the agent then gets a double dip,in fact this is an illegal process of conflict of interest under corporate law, and if the tenant wrides against this method it becomes difficult to pay rent and the tenant is then deemed a bad tenant. PROPERTY OWNERS-DO NOT BELIEVE THE REINSW RUBBISH ABOUT TENANT INSECURITY AND DISLOYALTY,most tenants will treat your property with respect, but respect goes both ways,and remember, when the tenant moves on, YOU Still OWN IT!

  17. Niel Edgley April 11, 2013 at 4:13 am #

    I believe it is garbage because when the blindfolds were taken off the legislation, apart from a knob of cream on top of the thin temporary slice of pie, the legislation still did not do much for the Renters who are financiers of the rental property market which feeds champagne and caviar to the greedy, it’s the renters who pay for the property in the long term which the landord retains, REINSW, get it right!

  18. Niel April 9, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

    I see, even after all this time, there is still no comment from anyone with relativity to The REINSW, because the organisation is looking after themselves only.

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