New tenancy reforms to protect victims of domestic violence are a human rights win but NSW Parliament must also address unfair evictions

October 12, 2018

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has joined the “Make Renting Fair” campaign in NSW with 90 other organisations urging the NSW Parliament to vote in favour of the Residential Tenancies Act (Review) Bill 2018, but with crucial amendments to make renting fair by removing unfair evictions.

ALHR NSW Convenor Sarah Schwartz said, “We strongly welcome important new safeguards included in the Bill to protect tenants who experience domestic violence. These measures will enable such tenants to terminate their tenancy immediately after providing a domestic violence termination notice, reduce their liability for damage to property by perpetrators, and prevent them from being blacklisted on tenancy databases.”

“In Australia, the leading cause of homelessness for women and children is domestic violence. These changes ensure greater legal protection for people when leaving domestic violence relationships.”

”The ‘Make Renting Fair’ NSW campaign is, however, urging the NSW Parliament to include crucial amendments to the Bill to protect other tenants in NSW by removing no-grounds evictions from the NSW statute books,” said Schwartz.

“The current provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) allow landlords to evict tenants without providing a reason. The provisions can be used to evict tenants for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. This can have a particularly significant impact on renters with low incomes or complex needs.”

Australia is a signatory to the UN Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Berejiklian Government is therefore obliged to take appropriate steps to ensure the right of every NSW resident to an adequate standard of living, including the right to safe and secure accomodation in order to live in peace and dignity.”*

“At a time when over 2 million people rent their homes in NSW, the removal of no-grounds evictions would ensure greater safety and security for tenants throughout NSW, and would better protect the human rights of all those who rent in NSW.”

“ALHR congratulates the Government on the positive measures included in the Bill and urges it to introduce the crucial amendments being called for by the ‘Make Renting Fair’ NSW campaign which go towards ensuring the right to an adequate standard of living for all Australians.”

Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.
* CESCR General Comment No. 4: The Right to Adequate Housing (Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant). Adopted at the Sixth Session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on 13 December 1991 (Contained in Document E/1992/23)