It is a well-known fact that over the past 30 years, the rights of landlords have been eroded to the point where they literally have no control over their own properties. Under the current tenancy laws, landlords are completely at the mercy of their tenants and the various tribunals that have been established to safeguard even the most abusive tenants against any action by their landlords.
The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (the Act) in NSW has so many onerous provisions and restrictions on landlords that make it impossible to control what goes on in their own properties, that many people who would have invested in rental properties are now investing elsewhere and thus there is a chronic shortage of rental properties in NSW.
Any person who is contemplating becoming a landlord and reads the Act would be horrified at its provisions. Many years ago, I had a number of rental properties, but as the various laws pertaining to landlords and tenants were made more restrictive, I decided to get out of the landlord business, simply because I refused to be at the mercy of rogue tenants, various loony-left completely biased tribunals and of course the NSW government that instituted and enforced such discrimination against landlords.
The new Act is ludicrous in the extreme. Here is a synopsis of the provisions for landlords and commentary about the ramifications. Starting a tenancy is fairly straightforward, but the so-called anti-discrimination aspect of the law gives landlords little or no right to choose their tenants or refuse tenancy to people with whom they do not wish to do business. Under the Act, there are specific rules about discrimination.
The NSW Fair Trading website states, "Everybody should be given a ‘Fair Go’ when renting or trying to rent a property. The view that ”it’s my property so I can choose who I like” only goes so far. You have the right to choose the most suitable tenant provided no unfair discrimination occurs."
But why should everybody be given a fair go? There are certain sectors of the community who are known undesirables and have a shocking reputation as tenants. Why should they be given a fair go, when the risks of renting property to such people are known? Insurance companies are not prosecuted for refusing to insure people, property or goods that are of an acceptably high risk, so why should landlords be forced to rent their valuable properties to people of a particular group who are well-known to be unacceptably high risk for damaging property or defaulting on rent?
The law states that landlords or their agents must not discriminate against anyone, or harass them, because of their:
It is also against the law for landlords or their agents to discriminate against a person because of the race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability, homosexuality, age or transgender of their relatives, friends or associates.
The anti-discrimination provisions of the Act are so ludicrous, that any landlords who abide by them are doing themselves a grave disservice for the following reasons.
If people of a particular race or nationality have a long track record of being bad tenants, then landlords should take this into account and refuse to rent to such people. If a risk is known, then obviously prudent people will take heed of it and do their best to avoid it. Insurance companies do that every day. If somebody with a shocking track record of causing car accidents applies to an insurance company and is declined, there is no tribunal that would demand that the insurance company cover that person with an insurance policy. The same should go for landlords.
For instance, Aborigines have a very bad record as tenants and all the political correctness in the world will not disguise the fact that every real estate agent in Australia has horror stories about Aboriginal tenants and the destruction that they wreaked on rental properties. Normally, no sensible person will hold somebody's race against them, simply because nobody can be blamed for their DNA, but with Aborigines, the problem stems from their culture and the disrespect that they have shown to the properties of others. Aborigines are a known risk as bad tenants and unfortunately the statistics and anecdotal evidence proves this beyond any shadow of doubt. Therefore, landlords who rent to Aborigines and suffer loss because of this have invited a problem that could have been avoided. Sure, it's against the law to discriminate against Aborigines, but so what? Should landlords deliberately expose themselves to known unacceptable risks because the law is an ass? Hell no.
Under this ludicrous Act, nationality and descent is bundled under the banner of Race, even though these two descriptions have nothing to do with race whatsoever. But no amount of political correctness will erase the fact that different nationalities have different traits, morals, cultures and other factors that affect their suitability and risk as tenants. Real estate agents have a litany of anecdotal evidence about people of certain nationalities that are known troublemakers and landlords who do not take this information on board and use it to assess the suitability of prospective tenants are doing themselves a grave disservice.
Normally, landlords would not really discriminate against the gender of prospective tenants, however both hard and anecdotal evidence shows that females are generally far better tenants and cause less destruction, so landlords who understand statistics would use them to choose their tenants, just as insurance companies assess their clients. In fact, insurance companies actively discriminate against males with car insurance because they know that males have more accidents than females. However, the idiotic Act specifically prohibits landlords from selecting their tenants on the basis of gender, which is a complete denial of their rights to choose with whom they prefer to do business and of course the only way for landlords to deal with this is to treat this law as an ass and ignore it.
Again, landlords would not usually use pregnancy as a yardstick for selecting their tenants, however if a landlord is confronted with a female applicant who is young, unmarried, pregnant and unemployed, then such a person would be an unacceptable risk. On anecdotal evidence from hundreds of real estate agents, young unmarried unemployed females have very little chance of continuing to service their rental agreement and if they are also pregnant, it means that they have a much harder time trying to get a job. Therefore young unmarried pregnant females are a completely unacceptable risk and there is no reason for landlords to suffer the consequences of accepting risky tenants such as this, no matter how politically correct the law happens to be.
This ties in with the pregnancy issue. Usually marital status should not be a factor, as many unmarried women have terrific highly-paid careers and are great tenants. But young unmarried pregnant females are a different story and pose an unacceptable risk to landlords, who have to look after their own interests and investments, as they are not a charity to service the problems of young unmarried pregnant females who have an abominable track record of rental default.
Well, this is a very touchy subject. Disabled people already have far more problems in life than most people. However, this issue can be a minefield for landlords. For instance, there have been cases where landlords have accepted disabled people as tenants, then were forced by tribunals to install special equipment or build special access for those people at the landlord's expense. This was something that landlords did not expect, yet they were compelled to spend a lot of money on such facilities, knowing that once those disabled tenants departed, those facilities would probably never be used again. The cost of this may have negated any investment gains over the period of the tenancies, making the landlords the scapegoats for the problems of others. Landlords need to think long and hard about what they may be forced to do in the way of supplying special facilities at their expense for disabled tenants.
This is an entirely personal matter and governments should not impinge on the right to freedom of association of people on any grounds. Most people don't care about homosexuality, but there are people of certain religions and beliefs who consider homosexuality to be a sin or a crime and want nothing to do with homosexuals at any level. This is their right, however the stupidity of the Act may force them to associate with homosexuals by transacting business with them, which may be completely against their beliefs and desires. This part of the law is a complete ass, because it removes the right of landlords to choose with whom to associate - in other words, this anti-discriminatory measure discriminates against people who don't want to deal with homosexuals.
This provision affects the rights of landlords to avoid exposing themselves to known risks. For instance, if a landlord receives an application from a 17 year old unemployed male straight out of high school, the landlord would have to consider such a prospective tenant as an unacceptable rental risk. It is well-known that young inexperienced people straight out of school have great difficulty finding work and when they do, in almost all cases the pay is very low. Such applicants would find it very difficult to service a rental agreement, therefore landlords would be crazy to rent property to them. Again, the law is an ass in this respect and should be ignored. Landlords must have the right to limit their exposure to risk in any way they see fit..
This falls under the homosexuality banner and most reasonable people would understand that transgender people don't really have a choice in their sexual situation and should not hold this against them. However, people who shun homosexuals and transsexuals because of their religions and beliefs have rights of free association and should not be forced to do business with anybody who offends those beliefs. Landlords also have human rights, however this provision of the Act trashes those rights and this anti-discriminatory measure discriminates against landlords.
It is also against the law to discriminate against a person because of the race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability, homosexuality, age or transgender of their relatives, friends or associates. In other words, if a tenant decides to hold meetings of radical Islamic jihadists in his rented property and the Jewish landlord objects, that tenant cannot be removed on those grounds. There are many other scenarios that would be completely unacceptable to landlords, however they are forced to abrogate their rights under an Act that gives tenants amazing power over them.
The NSW Fair Trading website lists a number of circumstances of possible indirect discrimination. These again impinge on the rights of landlords to try and protect themselves from obvious risks at their expense.
Landlords cannot set more restrictive standards, such as a higher than necessary income. In other words, if somebody applies to rent a property and the landlord can see that the applicant's income may not even cover the rent, when average living expenses are taken into account, that landlord would still be obliged to accept that person as a tenant, with all the obvious risks of default. Yet insurance companies do this as a matter of course, imposing excesses on policies for riskier applicants such as young drivers.
Landlords cannot require all younger tenants to have one of their parents sign the lease as a co-tenant when they do not intend to live in the premises. So landlords are prohibited from trying to protect themselves against an obvious risk, knowing the anecdotal evidence from numerous real estate agents that many young people have a shocking track record of absconding without paying rent. Yet finance companies can insist on young people providing guarantors when applying for loans or credit.
Landlords cannot have an across-the-board No Pets policy which also excludes the needs of disabled tenants, such as those with a guide dog. No sane landlord would object to a blind person having a guide dog, as it is bad enough being blind. But people of certain religions and beliefs abhor dogs and might find it unacceptable to have a dog on any premises that they own. Should their rights be ignored? This is a very difficult situation, but in reality, people should always be most sympathetic and helpful to disabled people in every way.
Landlords cannot require applicants to have a proven rental history for a minimum number of years, which, for example, could exclude young people trying to rent their first home. Well why not? People applying for jobs are generally required to provide their previous work history as part of their assessment for suitability to be employed. Applicants for insurance policies must disclose previous claim histories. What's the difference between that and requiring rental applicants to show that they have a good track record of previous tenancy? This requirement shows that the Act is an ass.
Landlords cannot place unrealistic restrictions on the number of occupants permitted which, for example, could exclude those who are pregnant. This provision removes the rights of landlords to determine how their own properties are being used. Car rental companies impose all sorts of conditions on people renting their vehicles, as to how those vehicles are permitted to be used. Landlords should have the right to set whatever conditions they desire and if prospective tenants don't like those conditions, they are free to go elsewhere and find other accommodation.
Landlords cannot have a complicated and long application form which may, for example, deter recently arrived migrants from applying. So according to this asinine requirement, landlords have to make the problems of others their own problems. Why should a landlord have to pander to somebody who cannot speak or understand the official language of Australia? Of course it is nice to be helpful to all legal migrants, but this should be the landlord's choice. If a person who cannot speak English is confronted with a rental agreement that he does not understand, then he can take it to a translator and assess it that way. It's not the landlord's role to facilitate language translation services.
The NSW Fair Trading website states that one fair selection process is to rank people in order of when they lodge their application and then assess each application in turn for their capacity to pay the rent and maintain the property. In normal circumstances, this would be fair enough. However, if a neo-Nazi, outlaw bikie and a Muslim were the first three in the application queue, one can imagine that any intelligent landlord would eliminate them from contention, regardless of whether they had the capacity to pay the rent or maintain the property.
Why should a landlord even contemplate renting his property to a low-life scummy neo-Nazi? Why should a landlord be obliged to rent his property to a bunch of outlaw bikies? And why should a Christian or Jewish landlord be obliged to rent his property to a Muslim, who religiously follows a doctrine that commands him to kill Christians and Jews wherever he finds them. Sure, not every Muslim is a rabid killer, but they all believe in the murderous rubbish that is in the Koran and no sane person would want to have any sort of association or conduct any sort of business with somebody who holds those beliefs. And it is guaranteed that no Muslim will ever swear that the Koran is wrong about anything.
This suggestion about fair selection is ludicrous because it assumes that all people are equal and the reality is that people are not equal at all, by virtue of their beliefs and cultures that may be abhorrent to some others. Landlords should always have the ultimate right to choose their tenants by their criteria, not by the irrational, illogical and mostly politically correct laws that some crazed bureaucrats and academics concoct. After all, it is their property and if it is violated and damaged by undesirables that were forced on the landlord by this Act, then the landlord has to pay to have everything fixed, not the idiots who passed these ludicrous laws.
Imagine this situation - a Jewish landlord places an advertisement to rent his property. Only one person applies as a tenant. This person, looking like a skinhead thug, shows up wearing neo-Nazi garb and has swastikas tattooed all over himself. He doesn't realise that the landlord is Jewish and he states that he is a member of the Australian Nazi Party. He is unemployed and from the feral way he looks, no sane employer would give him a job anyway.
Under the Act, that Jewish landlord would literally have to accept this neo-Nazi thug as a tenant because nobody else applied, so he doesn't have a choice. But should this landlord be prosecuted if he sends the neo-Nazi thug packing and refuses to have anything to do with him? Nobody in their right mind would condemn that Jewish landlord for this, but believe it or not, a tribunal would actually have the power to prosecute and fine him for this and in fact, could even issue orders that he has to rent his property to this neo-Nazi idiot.
Another situation is one where a landlord is confronted by a rental application from a Muslim. Knowing that all practising Muslims subscribe to a doctrine that commands them to do the following (the quotes are straight from the Koran with references):
Why would any non-Muslim want to do business with people who hold such views and many other abhorrent views that are too long to list here?
Knowing the track record of Muslims, their litany of atrocities and crimes against non-Muslims, the fact that every terrorist in Australian jails is a Muslim and the fact that Muslims are anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and intolerant to non-Muslims in general, all non-Muslims should be well within their rights to refuse to associate with, or to do business with Muslims, as they pose an obvious existential risk, as seen in media reports every day. But the Act is an ass, because it would force a non-Muslim landlord to do business with somebody whose firm belief is that the landlord is his enemy and should be killed. It is absolutely insane that non-Muslims should be forced to associate with people who follow such a doctrine.
Landlords have rights as human beings and as businessmen and investors, but their most fundamental rights and freedoms have been removed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and the Anti-Discrimination Act. It is one thing to uphold the rights of people, but not at the expense of discriminating against others. The Anti-Discrimination Act is a tool of amazing bigotry and discrimination, because it empowers various tribunals to allow certain sections of the community to actively discriminate against others.
Aboriginal bodies are permitted to discriminate against white job applicants, whereas regular employers cannot discriminate against Aborigines. Gay pubs can exclude heterosexuals, but homosexuals cannot be excluded from regular pubs. The Anti-Discrimination Act is a complete ass as well, because it enshrines discrimination on the grounds of race, religion gender, sexuality and other factors, literally proving that only straight white males are not permitted to practice discrimination.
The anti-discrimination provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 flow straight down from the Anti-Discrimination Act, so if this Act is an ass, therefore the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 is also an ass. This Act removes the rights of property owners to determine what they can do with their own properties and it removes their rights of free association, something that is guaranteed under various UN treaties, to which Australia is a signatory.
Just because stupid laws remove people's inherent human rights does not mean that people have to passively accept them and be led like sheep to the slaughter. Personally, I refuse to accept stupid politically correct loony-left laws that abrogate my rights of free association and my choice with whom I wish to do business. I would never rent a property to a neo-Nazi or a Muslim for all the good and valid reasons expressed here. I would never rent a property to anybody whom I considered to be an unacceptable risk, regardless of the stupid requirements of the Act. If I own a property, I consider it to be my absolute right as to whom I rent it and I refuse to allow anybody to dictate to me that I have to do business with somebody whom I find personally unacceptable for any reason that I choose.
I would be most pleased to front any of those politically correct tribunals and have them try to explain to me why I should do business with neo-Nazis or Muslims who subscribe to the doctrine that they should kill me because I am non-Muslim. Just let them try it. All people, not just landlords, should stand up for their inherent rights and not allow asinine laws to destroy those rights.
A landmark court ruling in May 2011 set a precedent where landlords would be made to pay for rowdy tenants. Previously, landlords who passed noise complaints onto their tenants, could be held responsible for their noise.
A noise-abatement order was served on the owners, rather than their tenants, of a Double Bay apartment. The downstairs neighbours had complained for years of noise and disturbance. Anyone breaching a noise-abatement order can face fines of up to $5500 as well as charges of contempt of court that could lead to jail terms.
The owners claimed that they could not limit the noise because they did not live in the apartment, but the magistrate, Harriet Grahame, ruled they were responsible because they could control who they leased the apartment to, for how long and, if necessary, make physical changes to the property to decrease noise.
This is yet another nail in the coffin for justice, where the people who are not responsible for an act can be prosecuted for the actions of others. Why didn't the complainants enforce a noise abatement order on those people who were creating the noise problem, instead of blaming the landlords? The magistrate was wrong when she stated that the landlords could control who leased the apartment. With all the anti-discrimination and tenancy laws in force, landlords have virtually no rights when it comes to choosing who leases their properties.
The magistrate also did not take into account the problems that landlords face of removing problem tenants, who can stall their evictions for months and even years through appeals to courts and rental tribunals. So in this case, even if the landlords served an eviction notice on rowdy tenants, those tenants could remain in that apartment for an indefinite time while they fought their eviction, still making their intolerable noise, but of course the landlord could be prosecuted anyway.
It is obvious by this ludicrous court ruling that political correctness has struck again, where people can be penalised for the actions of others. It is no wonder that rental properties are far less attractive these days, when landlords cannot choose who rents their properties because of stupid laws, but then are made responsible for the actions of their tenants.