The Australian Greens would protect the rights of Australia’s five million renters after an overwhelming response from their national Rental Health Survey found almost half were spending up to 50 per cent of their income on rent.
The comprehensive package would deliver a better deal for renters by introducing a new national minimum standard for rental tenancies and a funding package to help landlords meet those standards.
A renter himself, Greens Deputy Leader and housing spokesperson Scott Ludlam said with an increasing number of Australians now seeing renting as their only option, including ‘renters for life’, the time to improve the rights and conditions for Australia’s renters was well overdue.
“We’ve heard thousands of horror stories from renters across Australia who are putting up with maintenance and safety problems because they don’t want to be evicted, who have been forced to move for no reason or who pay up to 50 per cent of their income in rent for substandard housing,” he said.
“We have national standards that cover our health and education system, work safety – even plastic chairs have a standard - our housing system should be no different.”
The Greens Renters’ Rights package would:
- Establish a new national body responsible for implementing and overseeing a new National Standard for all rental tenancies, with the view to develop a National Residential Tenancy Act.
- Provide a funding package worth $500 per property to assist landlords to make upgrades to meet the new standards
- Increase funding to state and territory Tenancy Advice Services by $10m per year
The Greens plan builds on findings in their 2016 Rental Health Survey, completed by 3190 renters over April-May this year, which found:
- 47% of renters spend up to half of their income on rent
- 53% say their rent is unaffordable
- 68% are in housing stress - paying more than 30% of their income on rent
- 66% don’t think the will ever be able to buy a home of their own
Security of Tenure:
- 63% of people would like the option to enter into a long term lease
- 62% had been forced to leave their rental through no fault of their own in the last five years, with almost 40% having to move between 2-5 times
- The most common reason given for tenants having their lease terminated was sale of the property (37%) or the owners wanting to move in (28%). In 17% of cases no reason was given.
Maintenance, safety and property condition
- 58% of renters have put up with maintenance problems because they were afraid of the lease not being renewed
- 30% feel unsafe due to inadequate safety features in their home
- 43% have made requests to improve their safety or significant repair issues that have been refused
- 61% said that their rental property was not cool in summer and warm in winter
- Only 6% of rentals have solar hot water and 4% have solar panels
- Only 8% have energy efficient appliances and 26% have water efficient shower heads
- 35% have windows that don’t have fly screens
Renters Rights and representation
- 47% of respondents have needed to contact tenants advocacy service to address rental problems in the past
- 87% of respondents think renters need better representation in Australia
- 92% support a nationally consistent model of consumer protection for renters
Greens candidate for Fremantle, who works as Principal Solicitor at Tenancy WA, Kate Davis said compared to other countries, Australia has some of the lowest protections for renters.
“In the rental survey we heard stories of renters living with dysfunctional bathrooms for months, renters who moved because the landlord refused to drop their rent or renters who just put with conditions because they couldn’t afford to live anywhere else,” she said.
“I find it extraordinary that we have some of the highest rent costs in the world, and yet the lowest standards and protection for renters.”
The Greens national rental health survey: http://greens.org.au/rental-health