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News from the Tenants' Union ACT
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Tenant News

News from the Tenants' Union ACT

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the new Tenants' Union ACT Newsletter!  A month or so late due to the TU office being struck down with the flu, and some of us taking leave to visit warmer climes! 

We hope to be sending this newsletter bi-montly to keep you updated on what's happening at the TU and the Tenants Advice Service.  This edition is slightly abridged as we're working away on some big projects at the moment (more below).  If you have any items you would like listed in this newsletter please let us know!

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues or anyone else who might be interested to receive it. A sign up form for this newsletter is available here.

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NEWS


Review of tenancy legislation




The ACT Government has announced a review of the Residential Tenancies ActThis is the legislation that covers all renters in the ACT, and which also contains the standard lease. The Review has been a long time coming with the Terms of Reference announced back in 2011! The Terms of Reference cover issues like fairness, share-housing, occupancies and the improvement of Canberra's rental properties to make them more liveable and sustainable. 

There are two consultation papers which have been released to inform submissions to the review, one on private rental and the other on social housing (public housing). Both papers are quite broad in scope, covering more issues than are suggested by the Terms of Reference.  There are some good ideas in the consultation papers, as well as some concerning statements and ideas, particularly in relation to tenants of public housing.  The papers can be found here. A survey is also available to anyone wishing to make submissions.

Submissions to the review are due on 12 September 2014. The TU has an extension on this date and will be making an extensive submission based on our expertise with the Act with the insights that our unique position as a dedicated tenancy advice service affords us.

If you would like to see a draft of our submissions with an eye to lending your support, please let us know.  If you would like to discuss aspects of tenancy law which apply to your organisation or client base before you make your submissions we are more than happy to sit down with you and chat. The more informed and passionate voices we add to the Review, the better chance we have of making real changes for renters in Canberra. 

International Tenants Day Art Competition

Entries are open now to anyone who rents in the ACT! That could be you! 

We need to hear from you by 9 September but artworks do not have to be submitted until 22 September.  So get busy, or tell you clients, workmates and friends!

Every year, we celebrate International Tenants’ Day on the first Monday of October, to highlight the rights, needs, and contributions of tenants around the world.
 
In 2014, International Tenants’ Day will be celebrated on Monday 6 October. The Tenants’ Union ACT and Housing ACT invite all tenants in Canberra to join in the celebrations by entering the annual International Tenants’ Day Art Competition and Exhibition.
 
Theme
This year’s theme is Sharing a Bond. 

The Exhibition:
Artworks will be exhibited at the Belconnen Arts Centre from Wednesday 24 September until Friday 12 October. The exhibition provides a great opportunity for participants to exhibit their works, gain exposure, and connect with other Canberra tenants.
 
Cost:
Entry is free.
 
Prizes:
$300 photography prize
All other entrants go in the running for one of three cash prizes:
 
First prize $500
Second prize $300
Third prize $200
A People’s Choice Award of $100 will also be presented on the awards night.  Anyone who votes in the People’s Choice Award also goes in the running for the People’s Choice Raffle prize of a $50 Canberra Centre gift voucher.
 
Certificates:
All entrants will receive a certificate of participation signed by the Minster for Housing, Andrew Barr.
 
Traveling exhibition
For the first time, the Exhibition will be followed by a traveling exhibition visiting ACT Public Libraries. This is an exciting opportunity for tenants’ artwork to reach a broader Canberra audience.
 
Deadline:
Entries for the competition close on Tuesday 9 September.
Entry form can be downloaded here.

What's on @ TUACT

Over the past few months we've been busy bee's with the following
  • Working with the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service in their Orientation program to deliver information about the Tenants Advice Service to newly arrived refugees and migrants. 
  • Creating and delivering tenancy training workshops for Red Cross clients who are entering the private rental market for the first time
  • Continuing to present our weekly information sessions on breaking a lease and bond disputes.
  • Attending ANU Bush Week to provide information and publications to new ANU students
  • Creating and delivering a training course for international scholarship students at the University of Canberra. 

TU in the media

The announcement of the review of the Residential Tenancies Act has sparked renewed interest from the media in the situation of renters in Canberra.  TU has commented to media on these issues:
  • on 25 July we spoke with Phillip Clark on ABC 666 about the TU's priorities for the review including changes to share housing legislation to protect victims of domestic violence
  • on the same day an article was published in the Canberra Times detailing case studies about horror rental situations brought about due to issues with the current legislation
  • on 1 August ABC's 7:30 report featured a story on the funding crisis facing Community Legal Centres
  • and on 4 August we commented on the effect that a falling rental market is having on tenants who are breaking their leases, often due to being made redundant from the public service. 

Upcoming in the sector...



Legal Aid Information Sessions
Legal Aid ACT offer free information sessions to the public on a range of topics including workplace rights, separation and divorce, post separation parenting and drink driving offences.  A timetable can be accessed here. RSVP is essential on 02 6243 3475 or by e-mail to  Community.Education@legalaidACT.org.au.  

Youth Coalition Training and Professional Development Calendar

To view the August - September calendar, click here. The Training and Professional Development Calendar is produced bi-monthly by the Youth Coalition of the ACT in partnership with the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA) and the Mental Health Community Coalition ACT (MHCC ACT). For information or to include your training in the next calendar (October - November 2014), contact the Youth Coalition of the ACT on (02) 6247 3540 or hannah@youthcoalition.net.

ACT Shelter Forums in 2014
  • Monday 13 October – International Tenants’ Week and Anti-Poverty Week – speakers / topic TBC
  • Monday 17 November – ACT Shelter AGM + Forum – speakers / topic TBC
All forums commence at 12.15pm for networking and lunch - then 12.30pm-2pm for presentations. For updates subscribe to the ACT Shelter E-newsletter here.
*Unless otherwise stated, the forums are open to the general public and ACT Government representatives

ACTCOSS Member Consultation in Preparation for the 2015 Budget Submission - 9 September
 
ACTCOSS member organisations and individual members are invited to join us this year as we consider how best to advocate for positive social change through the ACT Budget Submission process. Our submission is due in October.
 
This will be an opportunity to voice your concerns and views about the issues facing our community. It will also be an opportunity to share with you our current thinking around our advocacy strategy and effective ways to advance the ACTCOSS vision and goals as articulated in our Strategic Plan 2014-2018.
When: Tuesday 9 September 2014, 1.30pm
Where: ACTCOSS Meeting Room, Weston Community Hub, 1/6 Gritten Street, Weston
RSVP: actcoss@actcoss.org.au

ACTCOSS Training calendar 
There are a number of seminars being run by the ACT Council of Social Services over the next few months including, Effective Grant Writing for Emerging Leaders and Strategic and Business Planing. Further information can be found here.
 

Training available! 

If your organisation has clients who might benefit from a short information session on the Tenants Advice Service and tenancy rights, please get in touch as we are happy to deliver free tailored training to your clients at a preferred location. 
 
Also if you are a worker and would like to see a training session on tenancy rights in your workplace to help you assist your clients, please get in touch, we would be very happy to talk about how we can help out.

What's new on the web

We have found that our website is an incredibly useful resource for tenants, with thousands of hits on the site every day. We will be conducting a review of the website and the available resources over the next few months. Your suggestions for information and resources you would like to see on the website are heartily welcomed! 

FAQ on ASBESTOS



To provide information to tenants concerned about the presence of asbestos in their rental properties we have developed an FAQ on asbestos.  We are particularly interested to hear from tenants with concerns about asbestos.  Any questions and concerns can be directed to the Tenants Advice Service.

Fact sheets in community languages

We have fact sheets on basic tenancy issues in the following languages: Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Karen, Mon, Pashto, and Tamil. The can be accessed via the Tenancy Factsheets section on our website or contact us for hard copies.

FAQ on MOULD

Mould can be a common issue at this time of year, with lots of rain and changeable weather.  We have an FAQ on mould which covers what to do about it, and what to do if the problem just won't wipe away!
 

Social Media

Please connect with us via your organisation or personal accounts to stay in touch!
 
Our Twitter features daily updates on service availability

Our Facebook features daily updates with information on events, tenancy rights, news and links to the website.

Tenancy Statistics

Around 30% of the private occupied dwellings in the ACT are occupied by people paying rent and approximately 30% of the ACT population are renters. That's around 100,000 people renting in the ACT. 

8% of households in the ACT are paying more than 30% of their income to rent, that's around 30,000 people. While some of these people will be making a choice to do this some, particularly those in the lower 2 income quintiles are very likely to be in housing stress. 

The median weekly rentals for the week ending 20 March are $503 for houses and $399 for units.

The vacancy rate is currently 2.1%. 

The top 3 issues that the Tenants Advice Service have advised tenants on are: 
  • breaking a lease (e.g. compensation claims for lost rent)
  • bond issues (e.g. disputes about damage and return of the bond)
  • repairs

Feedback

This is our first edition of our new newsletter and we would love to hear your thoughts on it.  Please use the form on our Contact page to let us know!
 
Please feel free to forward this newsletter your networks.

 

 
 
Copyright © 2014 Tenants' Union ACT, All rights reserved.


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