‘We can’t produce miracles’: Minns rules out rent cap, promises supply drive

Premier Chris Minns has dashed tenants’ hopes for immediate relief from skyrocketing rents by ruling out a cap on rent increases, but promised major efforts to increase housing supply to ease price pressure in the long term.

An unprecedented squeeze helped raise the median Sydney apartment rent to $620 a week in March, up from $500 a year ago, with more pain on the way as migration restarts post-COVID and supply remains stagnant, and vacancy rates remain at or below 1 per cent.

Chris Minns said a cap or a freeze on rents would infringe on increasing housing supply, which is needed to fix the crisis in the long-term.

Nick Moir

Minns refused to countenance an ACT-style rental cap on Thursday, saying he was focused on long-term reforms to speed up the planning system and build more homes.

“I’m ruling it out,” he said. “We believe that would have an impact on supply, and we need to get supply going. The vast majority of rental market and new supply in the NSW marketplace has got to be provided by the private sector.”

Minns said the housing and rental crisis had been ongoing for years and in the short-term “I’m not going to proclaim that we can produce miracles”.

The premier acknowledged the stakes were high as young people and essential workers – including the paramedics he was standing beside following a graduation ceremony – were leaving Sydney due to the ballooning cost of housing.

“If we don’t get this right and start getting supply moving in this state, we will lose a generation of young people,” he said.

During the election campaign, Labor said it would rebalance Sydney’s population growth eastward and increase housing density near major transport hubs, including the new metro lines, as the west had borne the brunt of the city’s growth.

Minns said on Thursday his government now had a clear mandate for that policy. He said his new planning minister, Paul Scully, had also been tasked with clearing out the bureaucracy and red tape associated with development approvals.

“I’ve spoken to many builders who say it is easier to get approvals or quick decisions in Queensland than in NSW,” he said. “We’ve got an artificial bureaucratic level on top of it.”

All states are grappling with a rental crisis as vacancy rates plunge to record lows. The Queensland government recently floated the idea of a quantum cap on rent rises, ultimately deciding to limit increases to once a year, as is the case in NSW and Victoria.

The ACT limits rent increases to 110 per cent of inflation as measured by the consumer price index. Landlords can apply to a tribunal for increases beyond the cap.

Domain data shows the median house rental in Sydney is now $660 a week compared to $500 in Melbourne and $560 in Brisbane. In many parts of Sydney, the median unit rental is now $700 a week or higher, including the eastern suburbs ($790), the city and inner south ($760) and the northern beaches ($700). In the inner west it is $620 and in Ryde $600.

Greens housing spokeswoman and MP for Newtown Jenny Leong said she would introduce a bill on the first day of the new parliament to freeze rents for two years, and Labor MPs should make good on their election promises to help renters in their communities.

“My understanding is there’s support from interesting parts across the parliament for that kind of action,” she said.

Minns said the government’s policy commitments for renters were ambitious, including a ban on no-fault evictions, relaxed rules for pets and an affordable bond scheme for renters who move properties. “But it really does come down to supply,” he said.

The Tenants Union of NSW condemned Labor’s stance, with chief executive Leo Patterson Ross saying there was nothing in the plan to reduce rents relative to income.

“Rent regulation is a common and ordinary part of many advanced economies. We should be looking at all the options available to bring the crisis under control.”

( Information from politico.com was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

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