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Laws ‘skewed against’ landlords

Tuesday, 12th January, 2016

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By Andrew Robertson

Another exasperated landlord has called for tougher penalties for tenants who damage properties or fail to pay rent. 

When it comes to tenants flouting their obligations, Bob Simons, who has been renting houses locally for over 50 years, has seen it all. 

But the past four years have been the worst, according to the 78-year-old, who blames laws skewed too heavily in favour of protecting tenants’ rights.

He also accused the government department charged with enforcing those laws of being biased.

“The Department of Fair Trading hates landlords,” proclaimed Mr Simons, who acquired his first rental properties when he was 18 and now owns 31 houses.

He said there was something wrong with a system that allowed tenants to remain in a house despite paying little or no rent for weeks or months at a time and being served an eviction notice.

Even when the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal became involved, the tenant was typically given at least one more chance to remain in the property. 

Mr Simons said it used to be that when it came to leave tenants ensured the rental property was in the same condition as when they arrived.

“Now they have a garage sale and sell all the good furniture.

“At the moment I’ve got 14 (properties) empty and it’s actually better to have them empty.”

Mr Simons, the brother of the late Broken Hill councillor John Simons, said not all tenants were dodgy; he had rented properties to generations of the same family.

“I’ve got some beautiful tenants.” 

But it was time to crackdown on the few bad ones who knew how to work the system.

He agreed with fellow landlord, Alex Lyall, that people who owe rent or have damaged a house should be made to pay an amount out of their wage or Centrelink benefit.

“If they do damage ... they should be accountable.”

Mr Lyall and his wife Deanne detailed on Monday how they had lost thousands of dollars as a result of tenants not paying rent and leaving their properties filthy and damaged.

The NSW government is currently reviewing tenancy laws and has released a discussion paper - Statutory Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 - for public comment. 

A report is expected to be tabled in parliament by the middle of the year.  

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