An Illawarra tenants' advocate says some changes to regulations would negatively impact residents of social housing properties.
Illawarra and South Coast Tenants Service team leader Liv Todhunter says some proposed changes to residential tenancy laws - such as increasing the jurisdictional limit for bond and general claims - will only place more renters in vicious debt and homelessness cycles.
She also said with the high number of ageing social housing properties in the Illawarra, an issue of concern was the proposed regulation which allows social housing providers to charge tenants for the supply of gas and electricity that is not separately metered.
"This will significantly impact tenants in social housing properties where water is heated by gas, and that gas is not separately metered," she told the Mercury.
"There is no justification for exempting social housing providers from this section.
"It will only lead to a rapid surge in unpredictable charges for tenants who would not be able to control charges incurred by them by outdated and inefficient water heating systems that are not separately metered in large blocks of units.
"Tenants in social housing are already paying far too much for inefficient and outdated utilities, and this exemption would only absolve social housing of the motivation to update and better regulate these systems."
A statutory review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 was undertaken during 2015-2016.
In 2018, the NSW Parliament passed the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Act 2018, which introduced a range of reforms and improvements to the act.
Most of the reforms have not yet started, as regulations need to be developed to support the changes.
However, the first of a suite of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, which assist victims of domestic violence, came into effect in February.
Now, the draft Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 (NSW) is open for public consultation.
The outlined changes include expanding the list of material facts that landlords or their agents must not knowingly conceal from a prospective tenant to include drug crimes.
Another is establishing a list of minor alterations that a tenant can carry out, where it would be unreasonable for a landlord to withhold consent, and specifying which alterations may be carried out by a qualified person.
The proposed alterations include plants/shrubs, picture hooks, babyproofing measures, handheld showers and other accessibility measures.
Another proposed change is to include providing an option for a five-year fixed term in the standard form of agreement to encourage landlords and tenants to consider longer term leases.
Ms Todhunter also said they were increasingly giving advice on pet issues for clients "who are confused about NSW lagging behind other states in terms of pet-friendly tenancies".
"The proposed regulations are silent as to any changes to the pet term in the standard form agreement," she said.
"The standard pet clause is already out of step with the act itself, which is silent as to pets and the need for professional cleaning/fumigation."
Illawarra tenants and landlords can have their say at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au. Public submissions close on August 2.
The final start date for the new laws will be confirmed through the consultation process.