The South Australian government will be introducing changes to the state’s tenancy laws to make the rental market fairer for home seekers.

The government will be introducing changes to the existing policies that will:

  • Discourage landlords from soliciting rent offers over the advertised rental price.
  • Prohibit landlords from advertising properties with a rent range
  • Ban rental auctions
  • Changes in rental bonds

These changes will effectively make “rent bidding” illegal under the reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 to be introduced to Parliament.

This follows the New South Wales’ move of introducing changes to regulations under the Property and Stock Agents Act 2002 that will make rent bidding practice illegal.

South Australia Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs Andrea Michaels said the state has one of the lowest vacancy rates in the nation, with tenants facing higher rents.

“The practice of rent bidding unfairly drives up prices and is contributing to the current rental crisis by making it more and more difficult for South Australians to find affordable rental accommodation,” she said.

“That’s why we are cracking down on rent bidding because I want to make the system fairer for South Australians looking for a home.”

Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) chairperson Cain Cooke said the new proposals will add clarity and transparency to the rental transaction.

“REISA supports the banning of rental bidding whereby an agent can ask a tenant to pay more than the advertised price or hold a rental auction consistent with our code of conduct,” he said.

Turner Real Estate chief executive Emma Slape told Your Investment Property that the removal of rental bidding has been a long practice that fortunately, most agent did not engage in. 

"Rental bidding has been in the REISA Code of Conduct for around 15 years.  Tenants want to know the exact price of a rental and that’s fair enough, industry agrees this should be transparent and we are glad that the Government will tighten this up so that private landlords play by the same rules," she said.

Meanwhile, the state is also making residential tenancy bonds more affordable, saving a renter of a median priced house in Adelaide around $930 in upfront payments.

Under current arrangements, landlords can claim a bond worth up to six weeks' rent where the weekly rent is greater than $250. With the changes, the bond threshold will be raised to $800 to ensure that for most rental properties, only a four-week bond will be required. 

However,  said the benchmark is still set too high at the proposed rate.

“It’s fair that the rate at which 4 week’s bond is required changes as $250 is very low and it’s not in line with market conditions.  However, the median house price is Adelaide is $500 per week, so a change at around that threshold would be fairer for both tenants and owners," she said.

“If a tenant stops paying rent, the process to work through the Tribunal is close to 4 weeks, generally 5 weeks before there is a hearing and order, so it’s reasonable that an owner is looking for a little more security.”

“It also needs to be remembered that the majority of tenants do the right thing and they receive their bond back at the end of the tenancy.”


Photo by towfiqu ahamed barbhuiya