Greens MP Jenny Leong says renters have been totally priced out of Coogee. Credit: Anita Senaratna

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BY ANITA SENARATNA

The NSW Greens are calling for an end to no-grounds eviction, as well as a range of other reforms ahead of the State Government’s review of the Residential Tenancies Act later this year.

Greens MP and Housing spokesperson Jenny Leong says the reforms are about making renters feel secure in their homes and giving them protection.

“In NSW a dodgy landlord can kick out a tenant for no reason, or even worse, kick out a tenant because they actually make reasonable requests like maintenance repairs, or they want to be able to put up the rent astronomically but they know that it won’t fly as a reasonable rent increase so they just kick the tenant out,” she said.

“The NSW government needs to realise that there are now significant amounts of people, more children, more older people, than ever before living in rental properties, that now need to have some security provided to them. The idea that people are living with this constant stress of having to move from place to place has huge impacts on the livability of our city.”

According to the 2016 census, the beachside electorate of Coogee has one of the highest rates of renters in NSW, with over 48% of households in the area living in rental properties.

In Coogee rent prices far exceed the average full-time salary, pushing people further and further away from the CBD. The median weekly rent for a house in Coogee is $1725 a week, and the median rent for a unit is $700.

Gina Baptist has lived in Randwick most of her life and also owns an investment property in Clovelly. She admits that although the rising rent prices do mean more income for her, they are still “ridiculous.”

As the mother of a school-age child, she’s seen the strain that the rental market has put on families, as parents struggle to secure spots at the local schools for their children to avoid them having to travel long distances.

“Young families are cramming into units to stay in the area, which has brought the population up and they’ve had to change the catchment areas so the kids could go to other schools,” she said.
Luke Thompson, 23, is an IT professional and has lived in Randwick on and off for several years. When he last rented a room there from 2013 to 2015, the rent was $120. Now, the average price for a single room in the area is around $300.

Mr Thompson says cost was one of the main factors in his decision to relocate.

“I love the area but it became overpriced quickly,“ he said. “It got to the point where a friend had to rent a hallway for $100 a week. Not even a room, a hallway to sleep in. I’ve had friends living on couches because their real estate agency just decided to make their prices higher.”

Mr Thompson says he’s seen share houses where up to ten people are crammed in single rooms, mostly among international students. He says it’s important to know what your rights are when entering into any type of tenancy agreement.

Mr Thompson currently renting a three-bedroom house in Blacktown, with a huge backyard for his dogs for $420 a week.

“It’s funny how a room in the eastern suburbs is almost the same as this house,” he said.

Ms Leong says that reforms to NSW’s tenancy laws are “way overdue.” The NSW Greens have launched a website called A Better Deal For Renters, where renters can share stories, find out how to get involved and sign their petition. Ms. Leong says that so far, around 70 organisations across NSW have joined their campaign.

“Renting is now a long-term reality for so many people in our community. There are now realistic prospects for people to be lifelong renters, and the idea of just talking about people who are aspiring to buy their own home fails to acknowledge the reality that for so many people, owning their own home is now completely out of reach,” she said.

The idea…that those people can never be provided with a place to call home for a long period of time and feel the security of being able to put down their roots in a community, is completely unacceptable.”