|The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW) (the Act) currently grants a landlord the right to recover possession of their residential property by giving the tenant 90 days' written notice. This right is termed a “no grounds eviction”
During the recent and extensive statutory review of the Act, several tenant representative stakeholders claimed that the no grounds eviction provisions should be removed from the Act. They argued, among other things, that landlords use this right as a retaliatory measure for troublesome tenants. The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales was able to successfully rebut this proposition, by showing that the Act already affords tenants ample protections and includes a specific protection for retaliatory action.
The no grounds eviction right has been in the Act for many years and has survived numerous statutory reviews – it is very important. There are many reasons why a landlord may need to recover their property. While not an exhaustive list, reasons may include marriage breakdown, returning from overseas, losing employment, illness and requiring accommodation for an elderly relative.
Unfortunately, the no grounds eviction is, once again, on the agenda with the State Labor Party promising to remove it from the Act within their first 100 days in Government. It is proposing to replace the no grounds eviction with a right to evict a tenant by establishing one or more grounds that are yet to be developed, but will be prescribed in the Act. By way of example, a reasonable ground for eviction would be if the landlord requires their property because their elderly relative (presuming this is a valid ground) needs care and living close assists with providing that care, or the landlord has a serious illness. The landlord will need to establish that it satisfies the criteria for the eviction ground, presumably with supporting evidentiary materials. This is a gross invasion of the landlord’s privacy and a costly impost.
A landlord being able to satisfy the criteria for the ground is clearly problematic. If we take the example of a landlord with cancer requiring chemotherapy, then who determines living close to the hospital in their rental property is better for them than having to travel from their principal place of residence? What is best for the landlord and the landlord’s decision in these circumstances is open to challenge by the tenant. The landlord would then need to commence an action at NCAT to establish their case, presumably supplying NCAT with confidential, private and sensitive medical reports and treating physicians’ opinions. Also, of concern is NCAT’s ability and expertise to assess and determine such cases.
If you hold the view, that what is being proposed is not only patently unfair, but is also unworkable, then you may choose to send to your local Member of Parliament the attached letter, ahead of the State Election which will be held on 23 March 2019.