How can we provide adequate protection and certainty to long-term renters?

What is the Problem?

Our traditional view of the Australian housing ladder regards renting largely as a temporary step towards the eventual goal of home ownership. But because of housing affordability issues, more Australians are choosing to rent and for much longer.

Close to one third of all Australians are now tenants, while two in three young adults aged 25–34 rent. Compared to countries like Netherlands, Germany or Sweden, contractual terms between Australian landlord and tenant are typically shorter and termination clauses are less strict.

Growing numbers of Australians are now faced with insecure, expensive and often poor quality private renting. If renting is increasingly seen as a long-term solution, problems of tenure insecurity, rental unaffordability, and limited overall tenant rights become lifetime issues. As such, the scope of Australia’s housing policies has to expand in focus, not only to support home ownership but also to promote affordable and secure rental tenures. Better protection for tenants in relation to security of tenure is needed – to limit frequency of rent increases, ensuring increases are fair, and to require rental homes to meet minimum standards and be maintained in a reasonable state of repair.

If more Australians are choosing to rent, how can we provide adequate protection and certainty to long-term renters?

Key Facts

  • At least one in three private renters are long-term private renters (ten years or more).
  • Almost 63 per cent of long-term renters are in housing stress (with those in the lowest 40% of the income distribution paying more than 30% of income on regular rental payments) and that more than 20 per cent of low income long-term renters regularly pay more than half of their income on rent.
  • Recent research by Consumer Affairs Victoria found that 53% of tenants had experienced problems in getting repairs completed. In addition, only 40% of tenants who had requested non-urgent repairs reported they had them completed promptly and to an acceptable standard.
  • While you're on a fixed-term tenancy agreement (provided it's less than two years), your rent generally can't be increased unless it's been written into your tenancy agreement.
  • Even when you are on a rolling lease, your landlord can only increase your rent once every six to 12 months. Only New South Wales does not have this clause, where there’s no limit to how often your rent can be increased
  • Renters are entitled to a notice period of 60 days (except in the Northern Territory where it is only 30 days).

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