With the Federal Election looming, renters face pressures on all sides.
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Times are tough for tenants

Rental (un)affordability

There's been talk in the media of the rental market easing, but that's not what we're seeing in our work. The fact is there's a chronic shortage of affordable rentals across Australia – as revealed recently in Anglicare's annual Rental Affordability Snapshot.

Anglicare's survey looked at over 69,000 rental listings and found that not a single rental was affordable for a single person on Newstart or Youth Allowance in any major city or regional centre. In greater Sydney and the Illawarra, less than 1% were affordable for people on low incomes – despite there being more rental listings compared to last year.
In the midst of the ongoing media attention on the issue of rental affordability, we've been hard at work making sure that tenants' perspectives are represented. In a number of recent articles we put renters in touch with journalists, worked with university researchers, and offered comment. But the real heroes are the brave tenants who tell their stories – please let us know if you might have a story to tell!

What the Federal Election means for renters

Tenancy laws are State-based, but our lives as renters will be significantly impacted by the outcome of this weekend's Federal Election.
The Everybody's Home campaign, of which the Tenants' Union is a part, recently revealed the worst electorates for rental stress in the country. The analysis by researchers from University of NSW on behalf of the campaign shows that rental stress is concentrated in outer suburban and regional seats – usually seen as traditionally affordable areas. Housing affordability is not only an inner-city issue. The worst six electorates for rental stress are all in NSW.
The Australian Council of Social Services has released a detailed Election Policy Tracker covering seven key areas, including a secure, affordable home for everybody. National Shelter has also produced a housing guide to party policies for the election, which ranks current available party policies against Shelter's policy priorities.

Negative gearing and fake 'rent increase' notices

One of the key areas of debate has been around negative gearing, so we've updated one of our most read blog posts with the most recent stats showing why tenants should not be under any illusion that negative gearing is helping: Meanwhile, it's frustrating to see the Real Estate Institute and the Property Council running a scare campaign – including direct mail to renters – which claims that Labor’s negative gearing policy will send rents soaring and lift the unemployment rate. National Shelter published a great response: Six reasons why negative gearing changes won’t destroy the economy.
These mock 'rent increase notices' have been authorised and sent out in a number of seats in the last few days. Rent increases and evictions are real sources of anxiety for tenants – playing on that anxiety for political gain is very poor form. Doing it on a subject where the evidence very clearly does not support your claim is even worse. The Tenants' Union, through the National Association of Tenancy Organisations, and together with other peak national community groups have responded:

End to unfair evictions in the UK

Theresa May’s government in the UK has shown that supporting a fairer, balanced renting system is possible for conservative governments.

Last month the UK Prime Minister and Housing Minister James Brokenshire announced legislation to end unfair ‘no grounds’ evictions. Landlords will no longer be able to end tenancies either at the end of a fixed-term or outside a contract period without giving a reason. Instead, there will be a list of reasonable grounds where although the tenant has not breached the lease, the landlord will be able regain possession of the property.

This means that Australia will be the only Commonwealth country still using ‘no grounds’ evictions despite inheriting the concept from England. In NSW last year Premier Berejiklian’s government declined to implement the reform. But perhaps in a new term they can take inspiration from their British counterparts.

New resources

Domestic violence

New Domestic Violence provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act came into effect in February this year. We have a range of updated materials available, now including a fully updated factsheet. Unfortunately, DV victim-survivors are still at risk of having to return to violence, or homelessness, due to Australia’s chronic shortage of long-term, affordable housing, as reported in this recent research.

Land lease communities

We have recently updated all factsheets on thenoticeboard.org.au – our website for residents of land lease communities (also known as residential parks). For news about land lease communities, make sure you're subscribed to our Outasite Lite email newsletter. Residents of land lease communities can get advice from their local Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service.

Other recent happenings

In April the Tenants' Union organised another successful meeting of the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services from across NSW. There were sessions on the new domestic violence tenancy laws, the 'pay to stay' principle in relation to rent arrears, electricity in land lease communities, the NDIS, social housing transfers, and much more.
Along with other community services, we attended the Lord Mayor's Welcome for International Students. It was a great event, and we enjoyed meeting hundreds of students from around the globe and talking to them about their rights as renters.
Did you see the Make Renting Fair report back from the inspiring Sydney Alliance Town Hall Assembly in March? 100 Make Renting Fair campaigners joined 2,000 other community members to demand secure, affordable homes, and an urgent transition to renewable energy.

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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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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 people of the Eora Nation. The TU is committed to respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures, lands, and histories as we battle for tenants’ rights in NSW.