Government overreliance on private sector has brought vulnerable renters to the brink

Senator Mark Wall
14 March 2023

Labour Senator Mark Wall said the utter failure of Government to prioritise renters’ rights has brought us to the cliff-edge renters are facing with the lifting of the eviction ban.

Senator Wall said the eviction ban should be extended but alongside a suite of measures to get on top of the crisis in the rental market including a ramping up of the tenant in situ scheme, a mapping exercise of vulnerable renters by local authorities, and a scaling up of building targets.

Senator Wall said:

“Despite the claims of some, the opposition is not demonising landlords. We’re highlighting the many ways in which the overreliance on the private sector has failed. Even with the ban on evictions, the situation is getting worse and worse with record levels of homelessness and record levels of uncertainty in the market. Many renters are trapped in the spiral of paying high rents, unable to save for a mortgage, and living precariously as landlords have the power to hand them a notice to quit once the eviction ban lifts at the end of the month.

“The odds are stacked against renters. It’s simply not fair and there has been no attempt by this Housing Minister to address the situation.

“Last October, when the emergency eviction ban was announced, Labour called on the Housing Minister to empower local authorities to scale up the tenant in situ scheme, remove the red tape and bureaucracy and get people into secure homes. He failed to do so.

“We also called on the Minister to compile monthly reports with local authorities of people at risk of homelessness once the moratorium on evictions lifted. He failed to do so.

“It’s very difficult to have any confidence in this Minister. Floating tax breaks for landlords rather than fixing the root issues like supply and a dearth of renters’ rights.

“This ‘othering’ of renters has been perpetuated by Minister O’Brien. In acknowledgement of the crisis in the rental sector, Labour introduced a Renters’ Rights Bill in September 2021 that sought to rebalance the power in the market through the introduction of a transparency register to address affordability, greater security of tenure for renters and end the blanket pet ban to improve the quality of life for renters.

“Renters aren’t just young and they aren’t just transient. The lifting of the eviction ban is about to unleash social consequences that the Government is simply not ready for. After years of private market failure, we needed to see the government provide a new model to tackle the housing crisis. An eviction ban is not a silver bullet but an extension to the existing ban could have provided government with breathing space to build more social and affordable homes.”

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