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Question: Renters Rights

12 September 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:44): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Leader of the Government in this house on the topic of renters' rights.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In July, the Adelaide Advertiser reported that tenants in all but 15 South Australian suburbs and towns were experiencing severe rent stress, with new data from Suburbtrends showing some are spending more than 40 per cent of their income on rent. According to Suburbtrends founder, Kent Lardner, and I quote from that article:

Adelaide, long considered a sanctuary of affordability in both the rental and buying markets, seems to be undergoing a seismic shift. What was once a haven for locals seeking affordable living options is rapidly transforming, challenging the very idea of 'affordable Adelaide'. It's a significant change that could have profound implications for the city's residents.

The Advertiser went on to state that SA tenants were amongst those being hardest hit by the country's rental crisis, with data showing the state recorded the second highest rental pain index at 83.27. Last month, a Guardian Essential poll found that three in four Australians believe that rents should either be capped to inflation or frozen until economic conditions improve. Members will recall that last year I introduced a bill that would cap rent increases in line with inflation that was opposed by every other member of this place other than the Greens.

My question to the Attorney-General therefore is: when will the government finally listen to South Australians and take action to curb rent prices? When will they do something about rent prices?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:45): I thank the honourable member for his question. The honourable member would be aware that we had legislation in here only in recent weeks in relation to getting a better deal for renters in terms of rent bidding and a number of other areas, and there are other reforms that are being proposed. There has also been announced a dramatic release in land in South Australia to help with new home buildings, as well as initiatives in the state budget to encourage new homes to be built to ease stress on renters.

It certainly is something not just in Adelaide, as I think the honourable member has mentioned in previous contributions, as right around Australia we are facing shortages of rental properties and increasing property prices and there is a combination of things that this government is doing to try to ease the burden.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:46): Supplementary question: as part of the series of things that the government is contemplating, has the government considered the ACT's approach to managing rent increases, which includes rent controls?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:47): I thank the honourable member for his question. I know the government has considered a whole range of things and the minister responsible in the other place, the Hon. Andrea Michaels, has put forward a whole range of solutions, as has Minister Champion, in terms of releasing housing prices. The government does not have any plans or policies to introduce rent capping though.