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Greens push for rent controls in SA

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The South Australian Greens will introduce a bill capping rent increases and preventing landlords from hiking rents more than once every two years – but Labor has already warned the push could lead to “unintended consequences” for property conditions.

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The Greens’ rent control plan would see a $400 per week house or apartment limited to a $20 increase over two years – in line with the consumer price index for March 2022 which sat at 5.1 per cent.

Greens MLC Robert Simms, who is introducing the private members bill in parliament next Wednesday, said the tighter rent controls would be an improvement on the current system where rents can be hiked once a year or sometimes more if there is an agreement between tenant and landlord.

He pointed to South Australian Housing Authority data showing rental prices in SA have on average climbed from $350pw to $420pw over the last two years.

“Rent increases of 10 to 20 per cent are crippling for families,” Simms said.

“Without reform, I fear more South Australians will be plunged into poverty and homelessness.”

Asked on ABC Radio whether tighter rent controls would lead to more evictions, Simms said: “We’ve made it clear that the landlord can only increase the rent of a property once in a 24-month period – even if there’s a change in tenant during that time.”

Labor is yet to state a position on the Greens proposal but Human Services Minister Nat Cook appeared to pour cold water on the Bill this morning.

“The Bill that Mr Simms is talking about putting up we haven’t actually seen,” she told ABC Radio.

“My first take on this is that we have to be really careful about any further unintended consequences that might happen around rents.

“And also what might happen to property conditions under a circumstance where we do impose some restrictions on the capacity of a property owner to actually … make their money on the upgrades or investment that they’ve made.”

Cook added that “we would like to appeal to property owners obviously to have a look at the current circumstances that we’ve got”.

“Which is a situation not just here but nationally that we really as a generation haven’t seen before, so to acknowledge that and put their own lens on what this is doing to people and low-income earners.”

A study released by AnglicareSA in April examining 1125 rental properties listed on the weekend of March 19 this year found just two were “affordable and appropriate” for a single person working on minimum wage.

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