Greens push for rent control in South Africa

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

The Greens’ rent control plan would see a $400-a-week house or flat limited to a $20 increase over two years – in line with the March 2022 Consumer Price Index which was 5.1% .

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

He pointed to data from the South Australian Housing Authority showing that rental prices in South Africa have risen by an average of $350 to $420 over the past two years.

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

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

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

Labor has yet to take a position on the Greens’ proposal, but Social Services Minister Nat Cook appeared to pour cold water on the bill this morning.

“The bill that Mr. Simms talks about putting in place, we haven’t actually seen it,” she told ABC Radio.

“My first opinion on this is that we have to be very careful about any other unintended consequences that may occur around rents.

“And also what might happen to the terms of ownership in a circumstance where we put certain restrictions on an owner’s ability to actually… earn their money on any improvements or investments they’ve made.”

Cook added that “we would like to appeal to landowners to look at the current circumstances that we have.”

“Which is a situation not just here but nationally that we really haven’t seen as a generation before, so let’s recognize that and put our own focus on what it does to low income people and people. .”

A study published by AnglicareSA in April looking at 1,125 rental properties listed over the weekend of March 19 this year found only two were ‘affordable and appropriate’ for a single person working on minimum wage.

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James V. Hayes