Tenant News

Tenants' Union Annual Report

The past year has been an extraordinary one for the Tenants’ Union of NSW, by any measure. Unprecedented bushfires and then flooding across NSW drove many displaced tenants to tenancy services for support. Several months of natural disasters then gave way to the COVID-19 pandemic which not only drove a record number of tenants to our online resources looking for information and advice but forced our own staff to start working remotely.
During these external challenges, we were also forced to look for a new office space and recruit a new CEO. It has been an incredible year of change, but we have taken it in our stride and risen to every challenge.
Tenants' Union Annual Report

Promise of a big spend on social housing: Did the NSW budget deliver?

In early October, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet suggested publicly that social and affordable housing would be a priority in the NSW state budget. Construction and maintenance of social and affordable housing creates jobs and has a "positive impact on society" he explained.

Housing advocates were hopeful this would prove a real commitment from the NSW government to step in and provide more direct investment. Unfortunately the NSW budget announcement on social housing investment was a little underwhelming.

In this blog post we unpack what is required in NSW in terms of 'more social housing', and what was announced in the budget. In this blog post, we make the the case for lowering the age for early allocation of social housing to 55 – to improve the access of older people to appropriate housing.

In other budget news, the NSW government has taken a significant step in signalling a real commitment to broaden the base of land tax. We have long been supporters of this. If implemented well, land tax is one of the fairest taxes and will have significant benefits to renters. 
Read more NSW budget analysis

Celebrating NAIDOC Week 2020

Tenant Advocates and Aboriginal community members representing local organisations at Dubbo NAIDOC. Photo used with permission.
Tenant Advocates joined in NAIDOC Week 2020 celebrations across NSW – in person and online. 

Western Aboriginal Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service participated in the Dubbo NAIDOC event. They provided resources and information, and talked about how they support the community with tenancy matters.
Greater Sydney Aboriginal Tenants Service attended a NAIDOC celebration at Sydney Zoo and provided information and resources to community members. Tenant Advocate Samantha Nicholls writes:

"It was very spiritual, uplifting, and emotional – we absolutely loved it. The smoking ceremony was performed by the Aboriginal cultural team at the zoo. There were Aboriginal people from Bourke, Lightning Ridge, Brewarrina, Perth, Melbourne – people from all over."

"It was a lovely day and it was good to see all cultures happy to celebrate as one and want to know about our culture and cultural practices.

"It was really touching watching young Aboriginal men and women coming together to showcase how proud we are as Aboriginal people, and to share such a powerful knowledge we have as First Nations people. There were comments from non-Aboriginal people saying that we as a minority are so gifted with knowledge to still be here after all the adversity and struggles we have faced in the past and continue to face now."

Read more

Reconciliation Action Plan 2020-2022

During NAIDOC, Tenants' Union staff watched Mparntwe: Sacred Sites – a documentary looking at the sacred sites in and around Mparntwe in Central Australia, and the struggle of the Arrernte people to identify, document and preserve these sites in the face of urban expansion.

In November, we were also pleased to publish our new Reconciliation Action Plan, which aims to ensure that reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is built into all aspects of our work.
Read our Reconciliation Action Plan

We've been evicted!

The Tenants' Union office is moving – because we've been evicted. While we're an organisation so it doesn't affect our lives too much, for residential renters, eviction is a massive upheaval. So we're taking this opportunity to share some of your stories – via a series of #MovingMonday videos. In the first video, Aidy tells their eviction story.
In the second video, Amity gives some tips on looking for a new place after being evicted.

From January 2021, the Tenants' Union office will be at Level 5, 191 Thomas St, Haymarket, NSW 2000. No change to phones or website.

No country for young renters 

Young renters survey

Young renters do it tough. Expensive rents, share houses, problems with flatmates, the risk of eviction, dodgy landlords, worry about bonds and outstanding repairs are just the tip of the iceberg.

Many young renters fear they will be forced to rent for life, as they may never be able to afford their own homes.

While renters under the age of 25 make up a significant percentage of tenants in NSW (and are living in some of the worst conditions), our research has shown they do not contact Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services at the same rate as other age groups. We want to find out how we could do better and understand which issues matter most to you.

So if you’re a young renter, we would love to hear from you! Your input will help us improve the way the Tenants' Union supports young people.

Please fill out this short survey and keep and keep an eye on our socials (insert) for updates! Please fill out this short survey and keep and keep an eye on our socials for updates!
Young renters survey

Staying Connected

Last month, over 100 Tenant Advocates participated in our first online Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services (TAAS) Network Conference. We explored a range of topics, including changes to tenancy laws, policy reform, and advocate work practice. We looked in detail at the effects COVID-19 has had on tenants lives, the Tribunal’s practices, tenancy law, and mental health. 

The TAAS Conference has taken place every year since the inception of the TAAS program in 1994, organised by the Tenants’ Union of NSW. It is a cornerstone of our Network, bringing together Advocates from across the state to discuss, debate, and debrief. This year, instead of coming together in person in a regional town as we usually do, the entire conference was online, as a result of COVID-19. We missed the in-person interaction and the organic conversations spilling from a stimulating session over lunch or dinner, however we made up for it with increased numbers of participants and a dynamic, interactive online experience. 
Read more

Getting advice over the holiday period

Most Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services will take a short, well-deserved break over the Christmas and New Year period.

But renters can still access advice.
At the moment, the Tenants' Union is running our Advice Line every day of the week, 10am-1pm and 2-5pm. The Advice Line is currently prioritising renters in bushfire impacted areas and/or those impacted by COVID-19.

During the Christmas closure period, we will run an additional Holiday Advice Line from Thursday 24/12/20 until Monday 4/1/2021, except public holidays. As usual, the hours of operation are 10am-1pm, 2-5pm. Also, remember that you can find information about tenancy rights 24/7 at tenants.org.au, and dedicated COVID-19 info at tenants.org.au/covid19

Advice Line: 1800 251 101 or (02) 8117 3750

Season's greetings!

At the end of this year which has been so difficult for so many people, the Tenants' Union would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you for your ongoing engagement and support. We could not have made it through without you! We hope you can have a relaxing and rejuvenating break, and come back ready to face whatever 2021 throws at us. We know we can do it – together! 
Please stay in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. We also send a range of email newsletters: Tenant News is usually sent every couple of months (this is a special edition due to the Annual Report); Outasite Lite (for land lease communities) is sent quarterly, and our News Digest is sent twice per week with our pick of items from all the latest tenancy and housing media. You can subscribe or change your email preferences here.
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See 'Get Advice' at tenants.org.au

The Tenants' Union of NSW 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 here. ISSN 1030-1054

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 © 2020 Tenants' Union of NSW, All rights reserved. Phone: 02 8117 3700
Suite 201, 55 Holt St, Surry Hills, NSW 2010 (until December 2020) 
Level 5, 191 Thomas St, Haymarket, NSW 2000 (from January 2021)

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.