In this e-news we look at Airbnb, housing affordability, renters' rights, tenant stories and more.
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Housing affordability and renters’ rights on the agenda

Federal Budget watch

There has been much discussion recently about renting and housing affordability measures in the coming Federal Budget. For instance there's talk of an affordable housing taskforce to come up with a UK-style affordable housing bond aggregator that will suit local conditions, as well as intensifying speculation that first home buyers could be allowed to raid their superannuation funds in order to come up with a deposit before applying for a loan. Read more on the TU blog here. Also check out our other recent articles: Federal Budget watch – housing affordability front and centre and I rent and I vote

Australia, the land of indefinite, insecure tenancies?

TU Advocacy and Research Officer Leo spoke to ABC News about a report which shows that Australia has one of the lowest rates of home ownership amongst millenials in the 9 countries analysed. We pointed out that what people really want are homes they can rely on – watch the 5 minute clip here. We also recommend this simple, 4-point manifesto by Jess Irvine of the Herald: A manifesto for Generation Rent
There has been some discussion lately about long-term leases, which are often touted as a solution to a chronically insecure private rental market. At the TU, we argue that limiting the circumstances in which landlords can end tenancies is a more effective way to deliver security of tenure. For more detail, see our submission to NSW Fair Trading from January this year, or these two recent blog articles:

What's wrong with keeping a sneaky pet?

Kirsten Robb penned an interesting recent piece for Domain, outlining how real estate agents know when you're keeping a sneaky pet. In response, we ask what's wrong with keeping a sneaky pet? The Daily Telegraph also published an article about a push from the left of NSW Labor for a ban on 'no pets' policies in rentals, prompting us to make the case for why landlords should support pets in rentals.

Millers Point – three years on

The 3rd anniversary of the announcement to sell all the public housing properties in Millers Point has just passed. In this blog post, we review the current situation and continue to argue that the remaining older residents should be given a real choice. More

Social housing rents under review

Former NSW Premier Mike Baird tasked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) with a review of social and affordable housing rent models. Last week they released their draft report, along with a number of draft recommendations and a call for further comments by early May 2017. Read more

Alarming reports have also been circulating that the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) could be axed in the next federal budget. Read more

Escaping an unsafe rental nightmare

"When I tried to assert my rights, the landlord gave me an illegal 14-day eviction notice, and also illegally locked me out of the property three times. He’s a real backyard bully." – Kellie, Central Coast tenant.

Kellie and her son Elijah are tenants on the Central Coast. At their previous place the landlord failed to abide by the agreement and renting laws in a number of ways. So Kellie got advice from Central Coast Tenants Advice and wrote to the landlord to assert her rights. She also went to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). Read her story

Residents take action over water

'Pay only for what you use' – that’s what the FACS Housing policy says, and that’s what will happen for hundreds of social housing tenants who’ve been overpaying for their water use for several years. Minto Resident Action Group (MRAG) and social housing tenants in newly built multi-unit buildings in Bradbury noticed that they were being charged water as a percentage of their rent even though they had a separate meter. Read more

Win for Aboriginal family in Coffs

Last year an Aboriginal family in Coffs Harbour with seven kids had their lives disrupted by building work. The family was renting a house on a large block and the landlord decided to redevelop by building another house on the block, without even asking for consent. So the tenants got help from the Aboriginal Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service, and applied to the Tribunal for compensation and rent reduction. More

Storm damage or mould problems?

After the severe storms and floods we've had lately (particularly in northern NSW), many tenants are dealing with storm damage and mould problems. The TU factsheets on storm damage and mould are being used and shared widely, and we also commented in a Sydney Morning Herald article, Sydney's rain and humidity triggers outbreak of dangerous mould.

Airbnb and the rent in Sydney

A new report from the Tenants' Union

The TU recently released a report examining the impact of Airbnb on rents in Sydney in advance of the government responding to its inquiry into short term lets. The key finding is that to date, Airbnb has not had a significant impact on the tenants of Sydney. However, given the potential for short-term letting platforms to grow, we support a number of changes to protect tenants now and in the future. Read more
Domain's Jimmy Thomson also published a good write up of our report: Airbnb not affecting rental prices in Sydney: Tenants Union of NSW report.

CLCs welcome NSW government funding

The TU is a Community Legal Centre, and many Tenant Advice and Advocacy Services are part of CLCs. Under the banner of #equaljustice, CLCs across Australia have been campaigning against an impending funding cut of approximately 30% in Commonwealth funding. In great news delivered on 5th April, NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman announced $6 million over two years in additional funding for CLCs in NSW. This news was welcomed by CLCs – these funds will help fill the void created by the reduction in funding by the federal government. Many CLCs will now be able to avoid planned staff cuts, service reductions and outreach closures, ensuring that hundreds of people and communities won't lose access to the legal assistance they need. But we still need the federal government to chip in their fair share, so that CLCs can meet existing demand and ensure that everyone has access to justice. We encourage you to sign this petition asking the Prime Minister to reverse the funding cuts – the petition is organised by Rosie Batty, who has been a wonderful advocate for CLCs.

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