Consultation forums on tenancy rights for residents of group homes; quizzes on renters' rights; the gap in NCAT's jurisdiction; and more.
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Welcome to 2018! We're off to a flying start in the world of renting information & advocacy.

Tenancy rights for residents of group homes – consultation forums

The NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Ageing, Disability & Home Care (ADHC) is transferring the management of group homes to the non-government sector. As a result of this change, residents of transferred group homes will get a new landlord. ADHC wants to ensure that the views of group home residents are heard and included to ensure that residents of supported group homes have similar rights to other renters and that these rights are guaranteed by law.
Shelter NSW and the Tenants' Union are collaborating to deliver a number of targeted face to face forums this month. It’s important that we hear from those within our community who will be directly affected by the transfer of supported group accommodation.

Who can participate in our consultation forums?

Our forums are specifically tailored and targeted. Voices of residents will be critical to ensure legislation is shaped according to their needs. We welcome you to register to participate in one of our forums if:
  • You are living in a group home
  • You used to live in a group home
  • You are family member, a guardian, friend or advocate of somebody currently living in a group home or someone considering living in a group home.

Sydney Forum

When: Friday 16 February 2018, 11am-2pm.
Where: Customs House Library Room, Level 2, 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay. Refreshments and a light lunch will be provided.
RSVP: If you would like to participate in the Sydney forum, please register here.
Registrations close on Wednesday 14 February at 5pm. More info here.

Penrith Forum

When: Tuesday 20 February, 10am-1pm
Where: Penrith Library Theatrette, 601 High Street, Penrith (Next to Westfield Penrith Plaza). Refreshments will be provided.
RSVP: If you would like to participate in the Penrith forum, please register here.
Registrations close on Friday 16 February at 5pm. More info here.

Future forums

Forums have been confirmed for Liverpool on 27 February and Wollongong on 2 March. Regional forums are also planned for Coffs Harbour, Albury, Orange and Newcastle.  Details of these forums are being finalised and more information will soon be available. In the meantime, email to register your interest.

The gap in the Tribunal's jurisdiction and what it means for tenancy

It was recently found that the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal does not have jurisdiction for matters where the parties are resident in different states of Australia.

This is due to a NSW Court of Appeal decision known as Burns & Corbett. The Court of Appeal found that although Commonwealth judicial power may be delegated to state courts, it may not be exercised by non-courts, like NCAT.
This gap in the Tribunal's jurisdiction has had serious consequences, including the dismissal of some landlords' applications for orders about rent arrears, and of some tenants' applications for their bonds.

TU Principal Legal Officer Grant Arbuthnot has prepared a two-page Information Sheet for tenants and advocates about what the gap means, and what to do if you're affected.

Download the Information Sheet here.

Standing up to your landlord, and winning!

Tenant Advocates often talk to people who are intimidated by the idea of going to the Tribunal. Taking a case to the Tribunal does involve effort and there's no guarantee on the final decision, but it is often the only way to achieve a fair outcome. In the case of a dispute at the end of the tenancy, we encourage tenants to remember that the bond is the tenant's money – not the landlord's. If the landlord has made an unfair claim on the tenant's bond, the tenant should consider making an application to the Tribunal. Our Tribunal Factsheet is a good place to start.

The ABC recently published this piece on two tenants who went to the Tribunal, and won.

Carla Garetti said she decided to stay strong and fight for what she knew was right. Source: ABC News. Photo: Carmine Esposito. Read the full article

Pop quiz! How well do you know tenancy?

The Tenants' Union has been publishing a series of quizzes on renters' rights. The next quiz will be this Friday on our Facebook page – we'd love you to watch out for it and cast your vote. Below are the results from previous quizzes.

It seems we may have started a trend, with the ABC releasing a renters' rights quiz – check it out and see how well you know your tenancy law (nationally)!
'Can the landlord sell the property while you still have a fixed contract or lease period?'

Yes they can!

92% of quiz responders knew that it's true – a landlord can sell the property during a tenant's fixed term. We think it's a bit strange that the landlord can change without the tenant getting a say, but a tenant can't replace themselves without permission. However the tenant does have some options – particularly if the landlord didn't state their intention to sell before the fixed term started.
'Tenants in NSW must allow "open homes" when the landlord is selling, so long as they have received the correct notice.'

False! It's 'me' time.

56% of people knew that open houses for sale are not permitted without the tenant's permission in NSW. Inspections are only allowed for 'prospective purchasers' and an open house by definition is for anyone who might like to come by. But many tenants also know that if they push back, they risk an unfair eviction in response. As a result, tenants have no practical way of stopping an open house.
'At the end of a tenancy, you can claim your bond back from the Rental Bond Board without having to wait for the landlord or their agent to sign off on the refund.'

It's true!

67% of people knew that a tenant can put in a claim for the bond with the Rental Bond Board without waiting for the landlord. The TU recommends that the tenant does this if they don't agree with the amount landlords or agents are asking the tenant to pay, or if they are taking too long. Too many bonds are lost because tenants don't know they can dispute the claims made by landlords and agents.
'A NSW landlord can validly give a rent increase of any amount they like in one go.'

Bad news, it's true!

54% of people knew that sadly it's true. There is no limit on either the dollar amount or the frequency of rent increase notices a landlord can give a tenant in NSW outside the fixed term. It then becomes up to the tenant to challenge the amount, either by negotiation or by taking the matter to the Tribunal and claiming it is excessive.

Home truths – from Snowy Monaro renters

We're pleased to publish this piece on the TU blog by guest contributor Jennifer Stone. Jennifer is a renter in the Snowy Monaro region, who has recently started a group for renters in the region to connect and discuss local renters issues.
"Snowy Monaro renters welcomes you to come into our place and sit with us a while. There is something vital we need to tell you, something which concerns us all. If you come to know who we are and our situation, you will understand. We come from diverse backgrounds, interests, beliefs and aspirations, yet we are a family, united by common experience. Though we are significant in number, we are marginalised, disdained, unheard and unknown. We have no real shelter, but pay a high price to dwell where the walls of greed’s injustice overshadow us – and block us from a home..."

Read the rest of Jennifer's article.

Stand by me – support disability advocacy

The Commonwealth Government recently announced that funding for national disability advocacy will end in June 2020. Recognising that advocacy, information and support is a core essential service, the VIC Government has committed to fully fund independent disability advocacy.
#StandByMe is a campaign by the NSW Disability Advocacy Alliance to restore NSW’s disability advocacy funding.

Staff of the Tenants' Union support the campaign and encourage you to take action in support of #StandByMe!

Sign the petition to the Premier here.

Position vacant: Senior Policy Officer

The TU is seeking a Senior Policy Officer (permanent part-time – 28 hours). The Senior Policy Officer is responsible for leading our policy team. This includes development of the TU’s policies on tenancy issues; undertaking research and consultation; representing the TU in the media and undertaking liaison with decision-makers. Find out more.

Help the TU continue our work for tenants...

Make a donation

GiveNow is a user-friendly, non-profit, secure, Australian donations portal. All donations over $2 are tax-deductible.

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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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