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Question: Renters Rights

5 May 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Human Services and the minister representing the Minister for Housing, the Hon. Clare Scriven MLC, on the topic of rental rights.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Today, the Adelaide Advertiser featured a full-page spread on the plight of renters here in South Australia. I refer the chamber to the articles, on page 8 of today's paper, by Miles Kemp. Under the headline, 'Rental as anything—desperate would-be tenants offering up to $100 above asking prices', Mr Kemp reports on the practice of rental bidding, whereby prospective tenants are offering money above the asking price and reports that this is widespread in our state. Mr Kemp also reports, under the headline, 'Rent help plea for battlers', that:

The welfare sector has warned of an extreme power imbalance between existing tenants and property owners because of the rental crisis.

The article goes on to quote from Mr Mark Henley, the manager of Uniting Communities:

Tenants are putting up with very poor housing for fear of being noticed by landlords who will then put up their rent. The power imbalance is extreme between renter and landlord at the moment.

The article features an image of a tenant, Simon Flaherty, who is battling with his real estate agent to have asbestos contamination issues addressed in the home that he rents with his family. My question to the minister therefore is: what advice does the minister have for struggling tenants like Simon, and what action will the government take to strengthen the rights of renters in South Australia by ending no-cause evictions and prohibiting rent bidding?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question about such a very important issue to so many South Australians. I am happy to refer that question to my colleague in the other place and bring back an answer to the council.


Reply received on 15 November 2022:

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Consumer and Business Services has provided the following advice:

The Malinauskas government appreciates the critical importance of housing affordability and shelter and acknowledges that there are currently many pressures affecting access to rental accommodation.

I have asked the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, responsible for administration of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (act), for advice on a range of issues currently affecting the residential tenancies sector, which will inform the government's consideration on the best way forward for South Australia.

Any proposed reforms to address these issues will be subject to broad consultation with the sector, providing an opportunity for interested parties to make a submission.

The government also provides a range of services to protect and support renters including the Housing Safety Authority that administers the Housing Improvement Act 2016 (the act) to ensure residential premises meet minimum standards for health and safety. The Housing Safety Authority inspected the home referenced in the question and acted in accordance with the act. The government also funds RentRight SA that provides advice and advocacy for renters.