An Illawarra tenants’ advocacy group has called for reforms they say would improve renter security.
A periodic (continuing) agreement is a tenancy for an indefinite period.
A tenant automatically moves to a periodic agreement when a fixed term agreement ends, if the tenant remains and no new agreement is signed.
Illawarra and South Coast Tenants Services team leader Warren Wheeler said during a periodic agreement, “a landlord can issue a no-grounds notice at any time, without having to state a reason”. “Also, towards the end of the fixed term, a landlord can issue a 30-day notice without having to state a reason, other than the lease has come to an end,” he said.
Mr Wheeler said during a periodic term, if a tenant has complaints regarding a property, they were often reluctant to exercise their rights for fear of receiving one of these notices. “This means often tenants will prefer to put up with substandard premises or poor landlord behaviour, just for the sake of keeping the peace so they don’t get kicked out,” he said.
“A landlord will give a no-grounds notice, they don’t have to justify why they’re evicting the tenant, and as long as the notice is given correctly the Civil and Administrative Tribunal must terminate the tenancy.
“This can only be challenged if a landlord gives a notice in retaliation to a tenant asserting their rights, and even then the tribunal retains discretion.”
However, he said tenants were often reluctant to challenge this, due to reasons such as lack of resources.
Mr Wheeler proposed the legislation be reformed to include specific grounds for termination, “to make it fair”.
“So if the landlord wants their property back to do renovations, or because they want to move in… There's no argument there that a landlord shouldn’t be able to get their property back for those reasons,” he said. “We’re saying the onus should be on the landlord to prove that is the case. So if they say they’re going to renovate the property, then ‘okay, show us the plans, show us when the tradies are booked’.”