‘The last thing we should be doing’: Labor’s rental relief bill hits auctions snag

The state government has been forced to delay its landmark rental relief bill after crossbenchers refused to support its key measure of banning secret rent auctions, arguing it does not stop tenants from trying to outbid each other to secure a property.

Housing is emerging as a major challenge for the new Labor government, with voters identifying rising rental costs as a key concern, and successive interest rate rises putting increased pressure on home owners.

The Greens argued that rental bidding, even if not silent, would still drive up prices.

Peter Rae

As part of its pre-election housing affordability pitch, Labor vowed to do more to help renters, including portable bonds and a ban on secret rent bidding because it “encourages renters to continually outbid each other on price to secure a home, driving up the costs of rent”.

However, in a sign of the difficulty in passing legislation in minority government, Labor’s bill hit a roadblock because the Greens argued that rental bidding, even if not silent, would drive up prices.

The bill has instead been referred to a lower house standing committee for an inquiry.

The Greens’ spokesperson for housing and renters, Jenny Leong, said it was a positive step that the government has listened and “put a pause on rushing through their proposed laws”.

“This inquiry is an opportunity to demonstrate the real harms being caused by rent bidding, both in its secrecy and in how it is massively driving up the cost of rent,” Leong said.

“Every day renters are struggling to find an affordable place to live in a brutally competitive rental market, or being hit with unfair rent hikes. The last thing we should be doing is entrenching a system of renting to the highest bidder.”

Tenants’ Unions of NSW chief executive Leo Patterson Ross said the government’s rent bill had important inclusions, but banning silent rent bidding would have unintended consequences.

“Rental bidding only happens because someone is desperate for a home, and there is a huge risk that auctions will increase prices,” Patterson Ross said.

‘The last thing we should be doing is entrenching a system of renting to the highest bidder.’

Greens housing spokesperson Jenny Leong

Patterson Ross said it was not clear who would benefit from the auctions other than landlords, who would be able to secure rents above the initial price they had set.

Minister for Fair Trading and Better Regulation Anoulack Chanthivong said the government wanted to ensure it struck the right balance, which could be done through an inquiry.

“We’ll work across the parliament to take practical, pragmatic action to relieve the pressure on renters as quickly as possible,” Chanthivong said.

“The pressure on renters is extreme, so we can’t kick the can down the road. A quick, targeted inquiry will help iron out the finer details and get this passed as soon as possible.”

Chanthivong said there would be further changes to rental laws that were being drafted.

“We’re already working on the next tranche of our rental reforms, including getting the rental commissioner in place and working through the detail when it comes to making it easier for renters to have pets and ending no-grounds evictions.”

The NSW Council of Social Service’s most recent research shows that one in five tenants – 413,000 people – across the state are living below the poverty line amid soaring cost-of -living pressures.

( 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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