National Cabinet must urgently limit rent increases and ban no-grounds evictions

The Councils of Social Service (COSS) network

Immediate action to limit rent increases and a ban on no-grounds evictions must be taken by National Cabinet this week to help distressed renters in Australia’s worsening housing crisis, the nation’s peak bodies for social services warn.

In a letter to the prime minister and Australia’s premiers and chief ministers, the Councils of Social Service (COSS) network – representing thousands of social services – warn they are seeing “distressing levels of housing need”, with a devastating human impact.

“There are over 640,000 low-income Australian households with an unmet housing need – people who are homeless, living in overcrowded housing, or spending more than 30% of income on rent,” the letter said.

“Our frontline service organisations are witnessing distressing levels of housing need.

“The rental crisis requires immediate attention. Without government intervention, housing will continue to be unaffordable and insecure for many Australians. Law reform is required to limit rental increases, prevent no-grounds evictions, and ensure homes are energy efficient.”

The COSS network is calling for rent increases to be capped, alongside a ban on no-grounds evictions, including those at the end of fixed-term tenancies. This would work “to provide greater housing security for renters and to discourage the practice of using no-grounds evictions to enable the rent to be increased under a new lease”.

The network is also calling for the implementation of energy efficiency standards for rental homes, a permanent increase to income and rental support payments, and plans that “deliver accelerated housing supply and seek to end housing need in Australia”.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said states and territories must coordinate action to make renting affordable and fair for the one-third of Australian households that rent.

“Australia’s hodgepodge network of rental regulations is failing renters. We urge federal, state and territory leaders to seize the chance for meaningful and substantial reforms that make renting affordable and fair,” Dr Goldie said.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said it was fitting that National Cabinet was meeting in Queensland this week, where there was soaring rental inflation and record-low rental vacancies, down to 0.1 per cent in parts of the state.

“The full extent and human impact of the housing crisis must remain front of mind as rental reform processes move forward,” Ms McVeigh said. “It’s time for all governments to step up after decades of inaction, to do what is needed to end the nationwide housing crisis.”

COSS includes ACOSS and eight state and territory bodies, including QCOSS, NCOSS, WACOSS, SACOSS, VCOSS, NTCOSS, TasCOSS and ACTCOSS.