Youth Action welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the NSW Department of Fair Trading regarding the review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (RTA). Young people are important stakeholders with unique experiences and different needs. Youth Action’s submission seeks to highlight areas in the RTA where improvements can be made to better service young people in NSW.
For young people in NSW, the situation is vastly different than for past generations. The housing context for young people today is characterised by declining homeownership rates, decreasing housing and rental affordability, a decline in the availability of social housing, and rising youth homelessness. The review of the RTA must therefore consider how regulatory frameworks can support young people to access stable and appropriate housing in a vastly changed landscape.
There are provisions in the RTA that have exacerbated housing issues for young people. First, the RTA lacks sufficient protections on excessive rent increases, which has placed young people who rent in further financial stress and at risk of homelessness. There is also ambiguity in the RTA regarding the respective rights of landlords and tenants to make repairs and alterations to rental premises, which has resulted in young people being uncertain about when and if they can enforce their rights. Third, the provisions in the RTA regarding long-term tenancies are limited and therefore do not reflect the current housing situation in NSW whereby young people are far more likely to be long-term renters (i.e. less young people moving from renting to homeownership) than past generations. Finally, the RTA allows landlords to evict without grounds, which places young people in further rental stress as they are at risk of eviction even if they are fully compliant with the original rental agreement.
Youth Action makes specific recommendations to address these issues arising in the RTA for young people in NSW. These recommendations seek to ensure that the needs of young people in NSW are met under the regulatory framework, and that this framework is adjusted for the current era of housing.