Tenant Advocates working together for renters across NSW.
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Tenant Advocates working together for renters

Tenant Advocates from across NSW recently came together for the Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Services (TAAS) Network Meeting. Around 60 Advocates participated in the meeting over two days, representing almost all TAASs from across the state. Read more

Tenant Advocates meet regularly to discuss good practice and changes to renting law. When you a call a TAAS you can be sure the Advocates are working as hard as possible to deliver high quality, professional advice and advocacy for renters. The Tenants' Union facilitates and provides resources for the TAAS network, including organising the Network Meeting. If you or someone you know needs renting advice contact your local TAAS

10 years serving the tenants of Western Sydney

Western Sydney Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service

The Western Sydney Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service (WESTS) recently celebrated their 10 year anniversary at Western Sydney Community Legal Centre. They were pleased to be joined by Dr Geoff Lee, Member for Parramatta and Parliamentary Secretary for Western Sydney and Multiculturalism.

The celebration included speeches, a special new video about WESTS, and of course cake! The history of tenant services in Western Sydney extends back to at least 1986 and has involved quite a few challenges along the way. Read more
Check out this new video produced by WESTS Tenant Advocates

Speaking up to make renting fair

Northern Rivers Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service

The Northern Rivers Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service recently met with Shadow Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, Yasmin Catley MP. Tenant Advocates spoke about the problem of unfair evictions, called for an increase in social housing, and an increase in government funding for tenants' services. The meeting was covered in a great article in the Northern Star and a two minute segment on NBN News.

Updated guide to boarding houses and the law

Inner Sydney Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service

Earlier this month the Inner Sydney Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service at Redfern Legal Centre published their updated legal guide for people living in boarding houses in NSW. The guide explains the ins and outs of the Boarding Houses Act 2012, as well as other laws that can apply to boarding houses. Read more

The rental crisis is worse than ever

Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot 2018 released today

Anglicare Australia have released their 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot today (30 April 2018) and find that the rental crisis is worse than ever.
The Snapshot surveyed over 67,000 rental listings across Australia and found that there is a chronic shortage of affordable rentals across Australia. The Snapshot is consistently a powerful reminder of how tough it can be surviving in the rental market on lower incomes. We've had a look at the numbers for NSW in this article on the TU blog and ABC News examines the findings in this article: Supply increase makes no impact on Sydney's rental market as tenants struggle to pay.

Wealthy landlords and more sharehousing

New AHURI report on how the rental sector is changing

A new report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) explains how the private rental market is changing over time for both landlords and tenants. More people are becoming heavily indebted by buying rental properties and shared accommodation is flourishing, as third party tech platforms help people find a place without an agent.
Dr Chris Martin of AHURI (formerly of the TU) offers a useful short summary of the report in this article from the Conversation.

FACS inner city exclusion policy won't work

Last month you may have seen news reports that people convicted of drug supply or drug manufacture offences will now be excluded from public housing in a number of inner city Sydney suburbs. FACS Housing announced the new Inner City Local Allocation Strategy in February and immediately sent out letters to applicants on the waiting list for inner city areas.
The letters informed applicants they are now required to consent to a criminal record check if they want to be considered for housing in Redfern, Waterloo, Surry Hills and Glebe. If they are found to have any drug dealing or drug manufacture convictions within the last 5 years applicants will then be excluded from these locations, although they may be offered a property in other inner city suburbs.

The strategy was introduced with no consultation with the organisations that generally assist the applicants, particularly those who will be impacted by its introduction. It is also unclear whether any consultation occurred with the residents of the communities affected.

If the TU had been asked we would have told FACS straight out – we think this is bad policy. The strategy is deeply flawed and won't achieve the outcomes the Government is hoping for. Read more

FACS Housing: Alternative waiting list figure

In March, FACS Housing published updated information about social housing waiting lists, showing a drop in numbers on the waiting list. But the news is too good to be true. The figures exclude 'suspended applicants'. These applicants won't be offered properties during suspension, but unlike closed applications, if their suspension ends their waiting time will be counted from the original application registration.
When we include suspended applicants, we can see that there has been a steady increase in waiting list numbers over the last five years. Read more

In total, the social housing waiting list in NSW remains in excess of 50,000 applicants. Estimates of the number of people who are homeless in NSW (based on ABS data) have soared by more than one third between the 2011 and 2016 censuses to over 37,000 people. Given these high numbers, it is worth asking whether there has been an increase in the number of social housing dwellings across NSW in recent years. We look at the figures and find only a very modest stream of new supply. Read more

Energy charges for common hot water systems

There have been some recent developments in the Tribunal for renters with common hot water systems. The Tribunal has found, and the TU agrees, that tenants are not liable for paying the energy bill required to heat hot water systems which are shared by multiple homes.

TU Principal Solicitor Grant Arbuthnot explains. More

Power to the people – at a reasonable price

Utilities in land lease communities

Did you know that the TU and the TAAS network also support residents of land lease communities (residential parks)? Some of the ways we do this are through our dedicated website thenoticeboard.org.au and a email newsletter – Outasite Lite – which we send about every two months. If you'd like to receive it, click here to update your preferences and tick 'Outasite Lite'.
The last issue of Outasite Lite examined a recent decision by the Tribunal, Reckless v Silva Portfolios, which has important implications for utility use charges in land lease communities. One of the key questions is whether it is legal for an operator to charge residents more than the operator themselves pay for electricity usage. Read more

New TU Senior Policy Officer

Last night ABC's National Wrap included a great 14 minute segment on renting and tenants' rights featuring Leo Patterson Ross – the TU's new Senior Policy Officer. The segment starts at about 16 minutes – watch the full segment here or a 40 second clip on Twitter here. Leo makes the case that no renter should be evicted from their home without a reason. Other guests include Kasey Chambers from Anglicare, and Leah Calnan from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

The TU is pleased to announce Leo's appointment as Senior Policy Officer, following the departure of Ned Cutcher to Shelter NSW. Leo has been the TU Advocacy and Research Officer for 7 years, prior to which he was a Tenant Advocate for 3 years, and also worked in public housing estates as a community development worker.

Leo writes, "A big focus of my work for the Tenants' Union has been to make sure that renters' perspectives form part of any public conversation. The importance of this task will only grow as housing affordability becomes entrenched as a top issue in people's lives.

"Many people will speak about renters but not represent them – that's why the TU is such an important organisation. I'm very conscious of the TU's 40 year history working for a better deal for tenants. We've always been able to adapt to changing circumstances but still push the conversation forward. I'm looking forward to continuing to do that as we face both new and old challenges."

If you would like to discuss the policy work of the Tenants' Union, email leo.patterson.ross@tenantsunion.org.au or catch him on Twitter @LeoPatRoss.

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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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