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The Tenants' Union of NSW is proud to have published Tenant News for over 40 years – originally as a printed magazine, now as an email newsletter. Check out the archive.

Bond Exit Survey launched

In NSW we know a lot about how tenancies begin – there are lots of statistics and articles on rents at the beginning. But there's very little on how tenancies end. No government body in Australia is tracking how or why tenancies end – but in NSW we are taking the first step to get this information. This is a great step from NSW Fair Trading – and one which the Tenants' Union has advocated for consistently. From now on, when you finalise your bond, look out for an email from Fair Trading asking you to participate in a survey about your tenancy. We encourage all tenants to fill out this survey – it is a great opportunity to get new evidence about the way our renting system works at the end of tenancies. Read more

Bond Loans – what you need to know

Picture this: You've found a new place to move to after getting a no grounds notice and you're pretty confident that you'll get your bond back on the current place. But you've been stung by unfounded claims from agents before and you're a bit short on cash since knocking back a couple of shifts to go to inspections. You can't hit up mum and dad to spot you again so soon – and you saw an ad recently for bond loans. Are they a good idea? Bond loans have been available for some time from a number of providers, and we've kept a watchful eye on them. They and other bond alternatives have sprung up largely because of a flaw in the process of moving – you have to pay your new bond before you get your old bond back. In this blog post, we investigate and evaluate some of the available options. Read more

Rental affordability – facts for the party

The latest Rental Affordability Index is out, produced by National Shelter, Community Sector Banking, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and SGS Economics and Planning. It shows that:
  • Sydney is by far the most unaffordable place to rent in Australia.
  • The situation is especially bad for people on Newstart – to rent by themselves a person would need to spend 135% of their income to rent an average 1 bedroom home.
  • An Aged Pensioner living on their own would have to pay more than 50% of their income in rent in any capital city – and regional areas are now out of reach too.
  • Even moderate income households are paying unaffordably high rents in most suburbs in every one of our capital cities.
Which just goes to show the whole housing system needs fixing. So, when you’re at end-of-year drinks or BBQ and everyone is talking about real estate (again) you might want to throw in some of these real facts from the Eveybody's Home campaign.

Antisocial antisocial behaviour management

A couple of weeks ago we made our submission to the statutory review of two sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 that require mandatory eviction in social housing for a number of antisocial behaviours, and short eviction times for all social housing tenants. These provisions were introduced in 2015 as part of a broad new "strikes approach" to managing so-called "antisocial behaviour/s" ranging from violent criminal conduct through inconsiderate behaviour, such as repeated noise and nuisance.
Alongside the "1 strike" mandatory eviction provisions, a 3 strike system was introduced that has been roundly criticised as having been badly implemented and largely ineffective.

Not only does the Government's ill-conceived strikes approach not work, it places some of the state's most vulnerable tenants at risk of homelessness.
We recommend a shift in approach. If you want to create better, safer communities, scrap the strikes and start investing in community-based supports and programs that build connection, resilience and capacity for individuals and their communities. Read our blog post or submission.

Embedded networks on 7.30 Report

Mary Preston is an amazing member of our network of land lease community residents. She has been a leader in the group who we have been assisting in public interest litigation against unfair energy pricing. Read more about this case along with an end-of-year review in Outasite Lite – our land lease communities email newsletter. Mary also recently appeared on ABC's 7.30 Report in an investigation into embedded energy networks. Read more

Affected by the bush fires?

If you are tenant whose home has been threatened or damaged by the bush fires, or you know someone in that situation, please have a look at our recently updated Disaster Damage factsheet. This factsheet is about damage to rented premises that is neither the fault of the landlord nor the tenant – for example the results of a storm, fire, flood, or other causes of such damage (e.g. a car crashes into the premises).
We recognise what a terrible time it has been for all those affected.

Also, given increased water restrictions, it's worth a reminder about our Q+A on water restrictions, drought and rental bond, published a few months ago.

Tenure security, mobility, and productivity

A few weeks ago we submitted our thoughts in response to the NSW Productivity Commission discussion paper "Kickstarting the productivity conversation". We recommended a shift to land tax, for a more reliable property tax system that encourages better land use, and exploration of a different way to encourage meaningful supply with positive outcomes.

On our blog, we ask "What is the most efficient mix of planning, regulatory and tax settings to deliver outcomes that get the balance right between tenure security and housing mobility?" We examine this issue chiefly from the perspective of the tenant-landlord relationship, which may be expressed differently in different types of rental housing. The correct balance between tenure security and housing mobility is to ensure that a housing consumer (tenant) is free to change providers (landlord) when they perceive that there is economic opportunity for them to move, or when they can express their consumer choice to take up a better offer in the market. However, their tenure security needs to be protected because of the particular nature of the service being offered. This is best done by ensuring the provider cannot withdraw the housing service without transparency as to their decision-making. Read more

Sector welcomes DV reforms

Last month, Women's Legal Service NSW, Domestic Violence NSW, People with Disabilities Australia and the Tenants' Union of NSW welcomed the passing of important legislation to improve the safety of domestic violence victims-survivors. The Bill strengthened reforms which commenced in February which allow victims-survivors of domestic violence to end their tenancy immediately without penalty. One important step forward was the expansion of the list of "competent persons" who provide evidence of domestic violence. This will help to protect victims of domestic and family violence and ensure their immediate safety. Read more

Tenancy law changes – progress update

NSW Parliament also passed a number of other small amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act as part of the Better Regulation Legislation Amendment Bill, and we expect to see the new Residential Tenancies Regulation on display in December. The changes from that and the 2018 amendments should take effect in the first half of next year. There are some significant improvements for tenants, though many of the bigger ticket items we would like to see are being left behind. Meanwhile, there are some hopeful developments in VIC, ACT, QLD, New Zealand, and the UK. Read more

Holiday closure and advice line

The Tenants' Union office will be closed from 23rd December to 3rd January. Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services will also be closed over the holiday period, but our holiday Advice Line will be running (ecxluding public holidays) from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. So, the Advice Line will operate on Friday 20/12, Monday 23/12, Tuesday 24/12, Friday 27/12, Monday 30/12, Tuesday 31/12, Thursday 2/1, and Friday 3/1.
  • Holiday Advice Line: 1800 251 101

Thank you and our best wishes!

However you celebrate this holiday season, we wish you the best and hope you cherish the joys of time at home or away, for yourself or with loved ones.

The end of the year is a good time to reflect on what we are grateful for. This year, as always, we are grateful to our supporters, without whom we would not be able to continue our work for renters.
Did you see our Annual Report published last month, and all the things we have been able to achieve in the last year? There is even more we would like to do, but we are limited by the fact that we haven't had a funding increase in real terms in over seventeen years.

A special thank you to everyone who responded to our call for donations last month – together you raised much needed funds.  But we still need much more help – please give now. All donations are tax deductable.
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Legal information in this email is intended as a guide to the law and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice. It applies to people who live in or are affected by, the law as it applies in NSW, Australia.

Copyright © 2019 Tenants' Union of NSW, All rights reserved.
Suite 201, 55 Holt St, Surry Hills, 2010, NSW. (02) 8117 3700

The Tenants’ Union recognises that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the First Peoples of Australia. Our office is on the lands 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.