No-grounds evictions to be banned in NSW
Whether the coalition has been "dragged kicking and screaming" or taken a measured approach, the result is the same for NSW's struggling renters: the end to no-fault evictions.
The Perrottet government on Friday matched many of Labor's earlier rental commitments, including to make it illegal for landlords to kick tenants out of their homes at the end of their leases.
The shift to a "reasonable grounds" model for evictions comes months after the NSW Greens introduced a motion to ban no-grounds evictions during a late sitting of parliament that neither major party supported.
Asked what had changed since then, Premier Dominic Perrottet on Friday said it was important not to rush into new measures.
"These changes were made in other states recently but also ... across the state, we're seeing landlords move from long-term tenancies to short-term letting, like Airbnb," he told reporters.
"That's putting a lot of pressure on the rental market. What we want to do (is) give confidence as well, for landlords to continue to remain in the long-term rental market."
Rushing changes would see landlords move into short-term letting, drying up the property market as had happened in regional NSW, Mr Perrottet added.
The government had been "dragged kicking and screaming" into improving its rental relief policy, Deputy Labor Leader Prue Car told reporters on Friday.
"We were really first off the mark when it comes to confronting the rental crisis in NSW," Ms Car said.
"The Liberals have been very slow in admitting that this is a crisis. They've matched a lot of Labor's commitments.
"They're being dragged kicking and screaming because the people of NSW are saying, 'This is really a live and present issue'."
NSW Greens housing spokeswoman Jenny Leong said ending no-grounds evictions would be a significant help for struggling renters.
"This is a long overdue reform, and we're glad to see both major parties finally come to the table," she said.
"But let's be clear that they were dragged here by tenant advocates, activists on the street and renters struggling with out-of-control rents and unfair evictions."
The Liberal-National coalition also committed to introducing a portable bond scheme and bringing in three- and five-year standard leases.
NSW Fair Trading would also be tasked with making undercover inspections on rentals, to spot dodgy real estate agents breaking newly imposed bans on rental bidding.
Solicited rental bidding occurs when estate agents entice prospective tenants to offer increased rental bids to secure a property.
Offending agents can receive fines of $5500 for an individual and $11,000 for a corporation.
Fair Trading Minister Victor Dominello said his department had only received six complaints since new regulations were introduced, but he was confident there were more bad actors in the sector.
He urged people who knew of agents soliciting rental bidding to dob in realtors to the department.
Ms Car dismissed these undercover inspectors, labelling them "rental cops" and insisting Labor would deliver wholistic reform of the state's rental system.
"What the government needs to be doing is actually getting to the root cause of why our rental system is so unfair," Ms Car said.
NSW Labor's rental policy includes banning no-grounds evictions, outlawing secret rental bidding, introducing a portable bond scheme and establishing an independent rental commissioner to advocate for tenants.
The party will also make it easier for renters to ask for pets in their homes.
The measures come as rental prices in capital cities have risen 14.6 per cent in the past year and 11.6 per cent in the regions, according to a Domain report.
One-third of NSW households are leasing, making it the state with the highest proportion of renters in Australia, according to the most recent Census data.
Fewer than one in 100 properties spends three weeks or more on the market.