A report on the Boarding Houses Act, roomshare research, safety info, support for Aboriginal Tenants' Services, community alliances & more.
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Report: Five Years of the Boarding Houses Act

The TU has just released a report marking five years of the Boarding Houses Act 2012 in NSW. The report finds that while the Boarding Houses Act was a historic step forward which has brought some improvement, the Act has not created the real change needed for boarding house residents.
Since the Act began, the TU and the Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services have assisted over 1,600 boarders and lodgers with their housing issues. To guide this report, the TU also interviewed boarding house residents, tenant advocates, local government officers and a range of community workers – including workers from homelessness services, student organisations and neighbourhood centres.

The NSW government will soon begin its own consultations on the Boarding Houses Act, with a report due in Parliament in October.
Read the Boarding Houses Act Report

Roomshare research

Do you or someone you know live in a roomshare? Renters who share a room face particular challenges. Like residents of boarding houses, their legal rights are often unclear and not well protected. For these reasons, the TU welcomes a new research project being conducted by a PHD student from Macquarie University.
The online survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete, and includes questions such as:
  • Why did you choose a shared room?
  • How did you find a shared room?
  • How do you like the experience?
Everyone who completes the survey will have a chance to enter a prize draw to win 1 of 10 $50 gift vouchers.
Participants will also have an opportunity to volunteer for an interview which will take about an hour. Interview participants will be paid $40 for their valuable time. For more info see tinyurl.com/sharedroomsydney or contact zahra.nasreen@students.mq.edu.au

Safety in apartment buildings

The TU has produced an information sheet on the recent changes to window safety rules for strata blocks. The government has changed legal requirements for strata apartments to prevent children falling from windows. All strata buildings are now required to have window safety devices installed on windows which have been identified as a risk for falling. Read more

If you live in an apartment, we also encourage you to make sure your building is fire safe. Material that covers external walls, also known as cladding, can increase the intensity and speed a fire spreads if it’s the wrong type or not installed correctly. The NSW Government is working hard to address these fire safety risks and new laws have been introduced to ban unsafe building products in NSW. Read more

Tenants' Union joins the Sydney Alliance

This Saturday (19th March) the TU is participating in Penrith Speaks Out – 10am-1pm, free BBQ included! – organised by the Sydney Alliance. We'll be hitting the streets of Penrith to survey the community and give local residents an opportunity to have their voices heard on the issue of housing affordability and security. If you’d like to join the TU contingent – get in touch!

The TU recently joined the Sydney Alliance – a diverse coalition of community organisations, faith-based organisations, unions and schools working together through community organising to create positive change in our communities. The Alliance this year is focusing on WorkPower, Homes, and Heart. We are especially looking forward to working alongside partner organisations in the Alliance on campaigns to ensure everyone, including renters have safe, affordable, secure homes.

Supporting Aboriginal Tenants' Advice Services

The TU Aboriginal Legal Support team has been on the road over the last few months. We participated in the Annual Koori Conference of Aboriginal Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services (ATAASs). The conference took place at the beautiful Youloe-ta Indigenous Development Association. It was a great opportunity to meet with ATAASs from across NSW and see meaningful and progressive discussions surrounding casework and policy concerns.
We also recently visited the Northern Aboriginal Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service (NATAAS) up in Grafton. We delivered our newly developed training on Social Housing evictions, as well as our existing training on Drafting Submissions, Compensation at Tribunal and other topics. We were also present at the formal signing of the NATAAS Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Family and Community Services and NATAAS.

Residents rights in group homes

The TU and Shelter NSW recently completed our series of consultation forums for residents of supported group homes. Feedback received is currently being collated and will be provided in a report to FACS. We would like to thank the incredible residents, family members, carers and advocates who shared their experiences and wisdom.

Residents and families were clearly anxious about the changes ahead. The uncertainty felt and the questions asked will provide FACS with important feedback on how the current regulatory framework can better address the needs of residents.

The difficulty of navigating the NDIS system and the flow of information were also raised as issues. The nature and size of the NDIS reform means that the volume and complexity of information that residents and families have to process can be overwhelming. There was a very strong feeling that more should be done to ensure residents and families are properly informed and have access to assistance to help them navigate this new and complex system. A well resourced advocacy system that residents and their families can rely on to guide them through the changes and assist them if things go wrong is a fundamental element of a working NDIS.

End unfair evictions – Make Renting Fair

The Make Renting Fair campaign has achieved so much in the six months since it launched. Check out this 4 minute video for a summary of the campaign. We'd love you to share the video on Facebook or Twitter and help #makerentingfair
Unfair evictions, housing security for renters, and housing affordability continue to be topics in the news everyday. In the last few weeks we've seen a number of great pieces:

Inquiry into land release and housing supply

The TU recently presented at a public hearing which was part of a parliamentary inquiry into land release and housing supply in NSW. We encouraged the committee not only to explore how best to supply bricks and mortar but also how to enable people to make homes through the provision of truly affordable housing and ending unfair evictions.

Goodbye Ned. See you soon!

Ned Cutcher recently left his role as TU Senior Policy Officer to take up a position at Shelter NSW. Over 16 years Ned has been a tenant advocate in two different states and five different organisations, starting as a tenancy hotline volunteer with Marrickville Legal Centre in 2002. Since then he worked for the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania, Western Sydney Tenants' Service, and Central Coast Tenants' Service before joining us as TUNSW Policy Officer nine years ago. Ned lead the policy team as Senior Policy Officer since 2015.
During Ned's time at the TU, we’ve seen significant changes in our renting laws, and in our public and community housing sector. Ned has guided the TU’s response to these with thoughtfulness and dedication. He has played a significant role in opening up the public conversation about housing and renting issues, and the need for change. Whether outside parliament, in endless government consultations, in the Tribunal or giving advice on the phone, Ned has always fought for housing justice and a better deal for renters. We know he’ll keep doing so in his new role at Shelter NSW! Cheers to you Ned.

Coming up...

Everybody's Home is a new campaign being launched on 20th March by a coalition of organisations in the housing and community sectors. The campaign will bring national attention to reforms urgently needed to fix Australia’s housing system. The TU is happy to be supporting this campaign aimed at improving housing for everyone, including renters.
The TU is always looking for opportunities to get out into the community and distribute good information about renter's rights. Check out these interesting upcoming events, and if you're there keep an eye out for us...

Help the TU continue our work for tenants...

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For tenancy advice, please contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service. See tenants.org.au

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 New South Wales, Australia.

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