Tenant News


Linda is living in a caravan after losing her rental home of 16 years, as the housing crisis deepens. Photo by Brendan Esposito – ABC News 
This NSW Election, more renters will head to the polling booths than ever before. According to the 2021 Census around 30% of people in NSW rent their home. 55% of all renting households are families with children, and over a quarter of a million renters are over the age of 60.

This election comes in the middle of a renting crisis. Renters are struggling to cope with soaring rents, lack of homes, massive energy bills, and the constant threat of homelessness.  

Housing costs and energy bills were a major focus of the Federal election last May, and since then these pressures have grown. Renters and our families are calling out for support. Political leaders need to demonstrate how they will take the problems renters are facing seriously, and put policies on the table to directly address our concerns.

On our blog, Jemima Mowbray (Tenants' Union Policy and Advocacy Manager) discusses the 2023 NSW election as #RentersElection2023. You can also take a look at our new tool State of the Renters, which breaks down data about renting from the 2021 Census data by local LGA or electorate.
Read more – #RentersElection2023
State of the Renters tool

Join us at the Sydney Alliance Housing Assembly

Sydney Alliance Assembly, November 2022
In the lead-up to the election is one of the best opportunities we'll have to put pressure on decision-makers to make real commitments on renting issues

Hundreds of renters, community members, and organisations (including the Tenants' Union and the Make Renting Fair campaign) will be coming together to demand change, and we'd love you to join us! 

Sydney Alliance Housing Assembly

800 community members from a range of organisations and campaigns will come together to ask decision-makers directly what they are willing to commit to regarding: rental affordability, rental security (ending 'no grounds' evictions), and mandatory minimum energy efficiency standards in rental homes. Decision-makers present will include Matt Kean (NSW Govt Treasurer), Daniel Mookhey (shadow Labor Treasurer) and members of the Greens and others.
➤ 5:45pm (finish approx 8pm) Tuesday 28 February, 2 Darcy Rd Westmead
If you can't make the Sydney Alliance Housing Assembly or are super keen for more, Homelessness NSW and CHIA NSW (the Community Housing Industry Association) are also hosting a PreElection Housing Summit: 1-3pm, 16 Feb, at Sydney Town Hall.

Pitter patter towards pet-friendly homes

Last month, NSW Labor announced (ABC News) their position on pets and renting that they will take to the election. This comes as we wait to hear the outcome of the Government's inquiry last December.
Billed as a plan to streamline the process for renters to apply for landlord permission to have a pet, the proposed model would see a standard form for tenants to request consent for a pet from the landlord, followed by a period of 21 days in which the landlord must provide a detailed response.
If a renter doesn't hear back in 21 days, the request is automatically approved.

This model looks similar to the rules surrounding pets and renting in place in QLD. Under the QLD model, there is a list of specific grounds on which the landlord can refuse permission to keep a pet. If the renter disagrees with the landlord’s reasons, the renter can go to the Tribunal to challenge the refusal.

A model like this would be a great improvement on the status quo for renters with pets in NSW. Right now, landlords can refuse renters’ requests to keep a pet for any reason, or no reason at all, and can write blanket ‘no pets’ clauses into tenancy agreements.
However, a model like this would still leave renters with significant barriers to renting with pets. The Tenants' Union supports a model where a landlord can only refuse permission or challenge the keeping of a pet if they, the landlord, obtain a Tribunal order allowing them to do so. This is a model similar to those that apply in VIC, the ACT and the NT. A second issue that remains unaddressed is that if you disclose you have a pet in your rental application, you can find yourself at the bottom of the pile. 
With the issue of pets and renting on the agenda right now in NSW, there is a real opportunity for changes to be made to make the rules fairer for renters with pets. Whoever forms government following the election should recognise that rather than adopting half-measures and flawed rules, NSW has the opportunity to lead the country with a robust and genuinely fair system.
Read more – Pet-friendly homes

What do the new rent bidding protections do?

Late last year the NSW Government signed off on new protections against rent bidding. These protections bring NSW almost in line with other jurisdictions, such as QLD, VIC and TAS. Key elements of the protections include:
  • A premises must be advertised or listed for rent at a fixed amount.
  • An agent must not solicit or otherwise invite an offer of an amount of rent that is higher than the advertised amount of rent
These terms become part of the Rules of Conduct that real estate agents are legally required to comply with. An agent who fails to comply with the Rules of Conduct may face penalties, including fines of up to $5,500 for an individual and $11,000 for a company.
It's good to see the NSW government act to introduce strong prohibitions against rent bidding practices. It's a source of deep frustration for people that the advertised rent doesn't always reflect what the landlord or agent is realistically expecting for the property and so whether they can actually afford the property. It wastes a lot of time and energy for both renters and property managers. Prospective renters can find themselves continuously unsuccessful after being outbid for a property. Many, caught up in this process, find themselves pushed beyond their means to secure a property.  

Unfortunately we don't think that the reforms in their current form will achieve what is needed. Most significantly, the reforms fail to restrict landlords or agents from accepting formally unsolicited offers. There are two forms of rent bidding – the first is where a landlord or their agent encourages bidding either via advertisement or explicit solicitation, the second is where a renter makes an offer above the advertised rent without being formally required or told to do so.

The impact of the current reforms will be negligible unless landlords are banned from accepting so-called unsolicited higher offers. If we only address the soliciting, the experience from other states and territories tells us we have not effectively addressed rental bidding and it will continue. We’d really like to see a restriction on accepting a rent over the advertised price, so you can negotiate down if you’ve pitched too high but you can’t bid up. When the market is tight, applicants are in a situation of disadvantage and will still feel pressured to make a higher offer.
Read more – Rent Bidding

Renters speak out on hot homes

For most Sydneysiders, this summer hasn't been as extreme (yet) as in recent years, but unbearable heat is still a huge problem for many renters. We have been working with Better Renting, Healthy Homes for Renters, and other tenant organisations across the country to keep the issue of insulation and improved minimum standards on the agenda. Read more: Not cool: push for insulation in all Australian rental homes as study shows dangerous heat levels (Guardian), and check us out on The Project

Renters privacy and data security

There is growing concern among renters about unregulated new technologies and use of our data in the property industry – see this roundup in Tenant News late last year or a scary glimpse from the US: Meet The Spy Tech Companies Helping Landlords Evict People (VICE). 

So we were pleased to see the NSW Government commit to new guidelines on the personal data security of renters in a bid to crack down on cyber-attacks and identity fraud – NSW brings in controls on how renters’ data can be stored and used (Guardian). Now that this issue is in the spotlight, it's a great opportunity to explore what is happening and guide policy to a fair and effective system. We've developed a survey to capture renter experiences and thoughts and help us make sure we're effectively representing you in discussions with government and industry (and you can answer anonymously!)
Take the survey


The Tenants' Union was pleased to once again be part of a stall at Yabun – the largest one-day celebration and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia. We recognise that the displacement of Aboriginal people from their lands and the ongoing occupation of Country has a continuing impact. In contrast to many other inhabitants of NSW, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rent their homes. We were grateful to have the opportunity to talk to members of the community, share resources and make referrals to help people access support from advocates.

Exhibition of renters photography

We were thrilled with the quality of submissions we received to our renters photography competition. The entries have been submitted to our panel of judges. We will be in touch with the photographers of the shortlisted images soon. We’ll be holding a one-night exhibition of semi-finalists, finalists and category winners from 6:30pm on 9 March, in the Barnet Long Room at Customs House.
We’re hoping the event will attract renters, campaigners, advocates, community leaders and politicians who are focussed on rental housing justice. We can’t wait to celebrate the stories and artistic contributions of renters. Keep and eye out for a special email invite to the event!
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The Tenants’ Union recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are the First Nations of Australia. Our office is on the Country of the Gadigal of the Eora Nation. We are committed to respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, cultures, lands, and histories as we battle for tenants’ rights.