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The Tenants' Union 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.

The Tenants' Union's busiest year ever!

In the last year (to June 2019) the Tenants' Union assisted 1,608 people with advice and 2,420 people with information and referrals. We trained 660 people – including renters, students, community workers and members of the legal profession. Our website had over 1 million unique sessions and our land lease communities website had over 5,600 unique sessions. We also produced seven new publications and three pieces of research on renting in NSW. We garnered thousands to take action to Make Renting Fair. Our litigators tested no grounds terminations by community housing providers and challenged unfair electricity charges and interference with sale in residential parks. It's been exhausting but rewarding! Now more than ever, we need your support. If you would like to support our work, please consider making a donation.

Make a donation

Electricity win – a real circuit breaker!

Some of the successful Parklea residents

A few weeks ago the Tenants' Union successfully represented 93 residents from Parklea residential land lease community in Tribunal applications regarding unfair electricity charges. Residents will now receive a refund totalling approximately $80,000 for incorrect charges in their embedded electricity network dating from November 2015. This important case will assist residents across NSW to challenge overcharging for their electricity.

The decision has been appealed by a resident and 14 others, who say their refunds should have been greater and the Tribunal erred in law.

Residents worked closely with the Tenants' Union and the residents committee in making their Tribunal applications, points of claim and written submissions. Voluminous data was entered on spreadsheets to demonstrate and calculate refunds due to home owners by the community operator. The decision has not yet been published.

Outasite published

We've just posted 5,000 copies of Outasite magazine across NSW.

Outasite is our printed magazine for land lease community residents and their advocates. This issue includes:
  • Cooperative communities
  • Electricity usage charges
  • Fairness about site repairs
  • Di Evans – land lease community advocate
  • Interference with sale
  • Site fees
  • Identifying the operator
  • Assignment of site agreements
  • Fair Trading and Service NSW
  • Meet the Minister
If you would like to subscribe to our regular email newsletter for land lease communities, Outasite Lite, please update your preferences or subscribe here.
Read Outasite online

Housing, health and affordability

The clear link between poor-quality, unaffordable, rental housing and poor health, has been explored in a series of recent reports:

International student renters exploited

Last month a new report released by UNSW Human Rights Clinic (which the Tenants' Union provided input for) indicated that exploitation of international students in Sydney's marginal rental market is flourishing unchecked. This finding was echoed in a recent ABC report – These student renters claim they were ripped off, so they took matters into their own hands.

The battle for decent public housing

Pierre Gawronski, public housing tenant. Photo: ABC News

Recently ABC News reported on tenants' struggles for decently maintained public housing. Two renters were featured: Pierre Gawronski, who has had to got to the Tribunal ten times to get repairs done; and David Bott whose epic battle for repairs we reported on last year.

We live in an era where social housing levels have fallen to historic lows, and for every actual dollar the government contributes, public housing tenants pay $5.73. Tenants deserve better than this!

Building more public housing will help all Australians, as Robert Pradolin argues in the New Daily. It creates (or in a recession, retains) construction jobs and provides many other economic benefits. We would also add that building more public housing improves the rental experience of people in the private rental market too. It does this by providing real competition to landlords who rely on low income people having no alternative but to accept poorly maintained, low quality housing. This competition raises standards throughout the rental sector.

Governments can afford to pay for more public housing, and it is by far the most efficient method of delivering truly affordable housing. Instead, we see selling-off of public housing – privatisation and 'financialisation' of housing – which is definitely not a solution to our housing crisis. Tenant Advocate and former Tenants' Union volunteer Joanne Knight explores these issues in a recent Arena article, Regeneration or Social Cleansing?

No homes on a dead planet

At the Tenants' Union, we believe all people deserve safe, stable homes to live in. This aim only becomes harder to achieve the longer we wait to start taking real climate action. There will be no homes on a dead planet. Whether your primary concern is the daily experience of living in homes with increasingly extreme conditions, or your concern is for the world we leave behind for future generations, there is a clear and present need to act. What can we do as renters? In this new blog post, we look at:
  • energy efficient homes
  • equitable energy generation
  • government's role in land and housing
Read more

Tenancy law for non-lawyers

Grant Arbuthnot delivering training to Tenant Advocates

Coming up on the 15th October 2019, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and the Tenants' Union will present our one-day introduction to tenancy law for community workers who assist or advocate for clients about housing.
“Thank you for making the learning process easy and enjoyable, for explaining things in plain English.” – a previous participant.
Learn how to help your clients with tenancy and housing issues with up-to-date and thorough information. This one-day workshop will help to clarify the complicated field of tenancy law and give you knowledge, skills and confidence in this area.

The workshop covers:
  • Introduction to contract law
  • Overview – Residential Tenancies Act 2010
  • Residential tenancy agreement
  • Overview of the Tenants' Union and Tenants Advice & Advocacy Services
  • Public and Community Housing
  • NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
  • Tenancy databases
  • Complex tenancies
Presented by Grant Arbuthnot, Tenants' Union Principal Solicitor.
Cost: $250. Bookings:
Book now

Legal Aid videos in community languages

Legal Aid NSW has launched a series of animated videos to provide information on tenancy to newly arrived refugees. The videos cover four key issues: starting and ending a lease; repairs; bonds; and condition reports. The videos are available in Arabic, Assyrian, Dari, Kurdish Kurmanji and English. See the videos on youtube or

Tenants' Union blog on the move

For over 10 years, we've been publishing news, commentary and analysis on our blogspot – the Brown Couch. Now, we're pleased to announce that our blog will appear instead on our main website at In the long run this will make it easier for our audience (that's you!) to find the material you're interested in. And don't worry, the old blog content will continue to be preserved on the blogspot site and in the National Library's Pandora archive at

Review of the Boarding Houses Act 2012

Public consultation on the review of the Boarding Houses Act 2012  has now begun and the government is seeking submissions and feedback on the Act; a government discussion paper has been published. The Tenants' Union will be producing a submission (watch this space!) and we encourage you to do so too. If you would like to discuss your submission, get in touch with our Senior Policy Officer at Submissions must be received by Tuesday 8 October 2019.
Boarding house residents who participated in a consultation project jointly run by the Tenants' Union of NSW and Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.

RTA Regulations, submissions and pets

We are awaiting the response to submissions on the Residential Tenancies Act Regulations 2019. You can read the full Tenants' Union's submission here. Thanks to everyone who contributed their own submissions! One area where there is the possibility of improvement is around the issue of pets. Currently, the standard tenancy agreement starts with a negative default term against pets. This is not required by the Act and is not in keeping with modern community standards. We think it should be removed.
Other organisations also made submissions arguing for a positive approach to pets, including the Cat Protection Society, CHOICE and PIAC.

Ruff sleepers

Ruff Sleepers is a new organisation that helps and advocates for homeless people with pets (dogs in particular). They provide a free mobile pet washing service, access to flea and worm treatments, referrals to free vet clinics and more. Leo Patterson Ross (Tenants' Union Senior Policy Officer) spoke to them about about the difficulties faced by renters with pets.

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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.
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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 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.