Vacant Bedroom Charge commences, the loss of OPTS and PAVS, new TU publications and more.
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What’s new for renters?

Vacant Bedroom Charge commences

Housing NSW’s Vacant Bedroom Charge has commenced, forcing some public housing tenants make a choice: Pay the same for less, or more to stay the same. However the new policy won’t deal with the real cause of the long wait for public housing: a lack of suitable premises. We explain why in a Brown Couch blog post, An Over Occupation with Under Occupancy. Also on our blog is a brief comparison between Housing NSW’s new policy and the controversial UK ‘bedroom tax’, finding some similarities but also significant differences.

The loss of OPTS and PAVS

The Older Persons Tenancy Service (OPTS) and the Parks and Village Service (PAVS) will regretfully close their doors in December. NSW Fair Trading has decided that separate resource bodies for older tenants and parks residents are no longer necessary. A reduced amount of funding (around 45% of the current PAVS and OPTS funding) will be provided to the Tenants' Union to provide some of the services currently provided by PAVS. You can read a final postcard from OPTS which celebrates some of their many achievements and gives a glimpse of their work through some interesting case studies. You can also check out the final issue of Outasite – PAVS’s publication for parks residents – which features insightful articles on the new Residential (Land Lease) Communities Bill 2013, the affordability of residential parks, and stories from PAVS over the years. The other Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services will continue operating (although without any increase in funding), funded by a small amount of the interest earned by the government’s investment of tenants’ bond money.

NCAT is coming

From 1 January 2014, more than 20 NSW tribunals, including the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT), will be integrated into the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). NCAT will provide a single gateway for tribunal services in NSW. Read more.

Strata reform

Some preliminary information about the NSW State Government's new strata laws has emerged. We comment on the general direction in Strata reform: early signs.

Around the TU

Tenants' Union Annual Report

Our 2012-2013 Annual Report, is hot off the presses. It includes a round-up of TU highlights and achievements from the year.

Tenant News 105

Also recently published, Tenant News 105 has stories on the Vacant Bedroom Policy, the Review of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, energy laws and more.

Submission to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act Review

The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 is under review, with significant ramifications for Aboriginal tenants. Local Aboriginal land councils own about 2,670 housing properties in NSW. This translates to a lot of tenants, and they are tenants whose voices often go unheard. Gemma McKinnon, Aboriginal Legal Officer at the TU, has made a submission to the review. Aboriginal people are encouraged to fill in the Aboriginal Land Rights Survey on the NSW Government Aboriginal Affairs website.

Tenants’ Rights Manual updated to reflect the Boarding Houses Act 2012

The online version of the Tenants Rights Manual (your comprehensive guide to tenants’ legal rights and obligations in NSW) has been updated to reflect the Boarding Houses Act 2012. Read the new Boarding Houses chapter on the State Library’s Find Legal Answers site.

Housing as a Human Right
- a speech by Mick Gooda

At the recent Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service Network meeting, we were honoured to host Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. His speech, Housing as a Human Right is available on our blog.

What's new for you?

We'd love to hear about renting in your community. What are your local challenges and what are the positive stories about renting in your area? Get in touch with us via email, Facebook or Twitter. If you need advice or training about tenancy-related issues, get in touch with your local Tenancy Advice and Advocacy Service. Advice from a TAAS is free.
A final postcard from OPTS and Outasite from PAVS
Tenants' Union of NSW Annual Report 2012-13
Tenant News 105 is out now
The Boarding Houses chapter has been updated in the online version of the Tenants Rights Manual
Housing as a Human Right - speech given by Mick Gooda to the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services Network
Find your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service or download Tenants Rights Factsheets at the Tenants NSW website
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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 New South Wales, Australia.

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Our mailing address is: Tenants' Union of NSW, Suite 201, 55 Holt St, Surry Hills, 2010, NSW.

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