Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024



Residential Tenancies

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:42): I move:

That this council—

1. Acknowledges that the South Australian government’s residential tenancies policies go too far and represent an attack on landlords;

2. Recognises that to protect themselves, landlords have been forced to raise rents in anticipation of the increase in costs involved in managing their properties; and

3. Acknowledges the harm this has caused tenants, who now find themselves unable to afford rental accommodation.

The state government previously progressed priority measures to provide immediate relief for tenants through the Residential Tenancies (Limit of Amount of Bond) Amendment Regulations 2023. The bond threshold was raised, which is estimated to have saved tenants up to $1.3 million in up-front bond payments during the first month. As is always the case, the Greens and Labor backed a further round of measures in an attempt to smash landlords with further legislation.

The government strategy has all the hallmarks of Greens policy, killing off incentives for private enterprise to continue supplying private rental accommodation. These measures go too far and are an attack on landlords. In this socialist agenda, where the government insists on putting its hands in the pockets of our investors and entrepreneurs, mediocrity is the outcome. The Greens have no ideas on how to produce anything. They just roll out the same policies to redistribute the wealth created by the very people who sacrifice to run businesses, pay taxes and employ others.

Wouldn't it be great to live in a Greens' world, feet up on the couch, accepting handouts and doing stuff all? It would be funny if it was not at the expense of the mums and dads working hard to provide for their families, contributing to their communities and creating opportunities for prosperity. To protect themselves, landlords have been forced to raise rents in anticipation of the increasing costs in managing their properties.

Landlords are required to provide tenants with a prescribed reason to end a periodic tenancy agreement or to not renew a fixed term agreement. Why should landlords be forced to give a reason for termination? Why should only tenants have the right to enter tenancy with no reason? This is not fair. It costs landlords to terminate because they need to readvertise, prepare the property for reletting and take the time to find and vet another tenant. Landlords do not terminate for no reason. The government should not question the reasoning of a landlord trying to best manage their own property.

Landlords have to give prescribed reasons such as abuse or threaten the landlord or their family, property manager, agent or neighbour, which will likely further inflame already strained relationships and lead to more SATAC hearings. A system more onerous on landlords will push some out of the market. The proposed changes will not resolve the rental crisis. They simply make it easier for undesirable tenants to remain in a landlord's property. Landlords no longer have the right to say yes or no to pets, which is simply ridiculous and unreasonable given they own the property and incur the costs of any resultant damage.

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:


The Hon. S.L. GAME: Landlords must accept pets unless they can justify to SACAT that they cannot.

The Hon. T.A. Franks: You have changed so much, Sarah.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Franks!

The Hon. S.L. GAME: Currently, the fee to apply for a SACAT hearing is $85.

The Hon. T.A. Franks: She will reap what she sows, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Ms Franks!

The Hon. S.L. GAME: This is another expense to the landlord simply ignored by the government. Landlords need to protect themselves from losses. We know from experience that bonds rarely cover the losses incurred by landlords. Why should a landlord be forced to take on the added risk of damage caused by pets? This is not the time to start discouraging landlords from investing in a rental market that is in crisis.

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:


The Hon. S.L. GAME: How is the government planning to accommodate renters in the private market now that landlords will be forced out of the industry? How will the government find housing for families unable to pay the increased costs of managing rental properties that will be passed on to tenants? I will support landlords by introducing amendments designed to restore some balance to rental laws. This will, in turn, assist tenants who will benefit from not having to absorb the increasing costs of managing rental properties under the government's residential tenancy regime.

I commend the motion and look forward to introducing sensible amendments to re-establish a more pragmatic approach to managing residential tenancies.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. J.E. Hanson.