The New South Wales government is strengthening its efforts to make the local rental market fairer, with a new bill being introduced to Parliament that focuses on rent bidding and portable bond scheme.

The reforms will focus on three key things:

  • Closing the loopholes in the existing ban on solicited rent bidding to include owners and third parties.
  • Eliminating secret rent bidding by requiring owners and agents to notify applicants of other offers from prospective tenants that are higher than the advertised price.
  • Ensuring appropriate powers in place to design and enact a portable bond scheme that reduces financial strain on renters.

The recent reforms build on the existing rent ban introduced last year, which laid out changes to regulations under the Property and Stock Agents Act 2002.

Minister for Better Regulation and Fair Trading Anoulack Chanthivong said the focus of the reforms is to balance the market, reduce stress and pressure for renters, and look at ways to drive new supply into the market.

“Agents are already banned from asking prospective tenants for more rent than what the property is advertised, but landlords and third parties aren’t, so we’re closing that loophole,” he said.

In terms of the bond scheme, Mr Chanthivong said the proposal will free up cash and make life easier for renters.

“In the existing system, a renter paying $550 per week faces a bond cost of $2,200 if they want to move, the equivalent of 11 weeks’ of groceries,” he said.

NSW Premier Chriss Minns said the reforms are in response to the lingering tightness of the state’s rental market, with tenants bearing the pressure from the low supply and rising interest rates.

“This is a sensible cost of living measure to help ease the pressure on the over 30% of people in New South Wales currently renting,” he said.

“These changes will create a fairer rental regime in this state by providing greater certainty as well as flexibility for both renters and owners.”

According to Domain Research, vacancy rates across Australia remained tight in April at 0.8%. While Sydney saw a slight rise in vacancy rates to 1% in the month, it led the annual decline in vacant rental listings.

On top of these reforms, proposals are underway to end ‘no grounds’ evictions, make it easier for tenants to have pets, and provide better protection of renters’ personal information.

Meanwhile, Minister for Housing and Homelessness Rose Jackson said the appointment of a Rental Commissioner to be a voice for renters is currently underway.

"More and more people are renting — and renting for life. As our housing market changes, we need to update and modernise our laws to ensure we are getting the balance right,” she said.


Photo by Yiran An on Canva.