Federal Budget and housing affordability policies forget renters. Plus a new survey of share house residents and more tenancy news.
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Renters forgotten in housing affordability debate

The 2017 Federal Budget has been dubbed 'the Budget that forgot the renters' – unless you're a renter who's well-off enough to be pursuing a first home purchase. But chances are your landlord is pretty happy with the Budget's housing affordability measures. We analyse the Budget and consider what 'Lenny the Landlord' might think of its headline measures on our blog, the Brown Couch – The Landlord's Budget.
In NSW, last week the Government announced their Housing Affordability Policy, containing three key aspects:
  • incentives for first home buyers / disincentives for foreign investors
  • fast-tracking development at higher densities
  • building more infrastructure to support communities
We note that tenants continue to be left out: rental affordability doesn't even rate a mention. Read more on our blog – NSW Government's Affordability pledge. The NSW Labor Opposition also announced its housing affordability proposal; we examine their proposal on our blog here.
75 years ago Robert Menzies delivered his famous 'Forgotten People' speech, which revolved around the notion of a forgotten middle class. The speech remains an important touchstone in Australian politics and culture, not least because Menzies and the Liberal Party went on to win government in 1949 and remain in power until 1966, making him the country's longest serving leader. Menzies' speech focusses on the ideal of the home – in its material, human and spiritual aspects.
Recently on the Tenants' Union blog, Senior Policy Officer Ned Cutcher had another look at Menzies' speech and argues that it is more concerning than ever that long-term renters were excluded from Menzies' conception of the middle class. But perhaps the moment is arriving when this middle class will be re-defined once more, as a new generation of tenants emerges who are not willing to be forgotten. Read more here.
Jessica Irvine, senior economics writer for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, made a related point in her Ruby Hutchinson Memorial lecture. She argued that, 'Renters are consumers too. They're consuming a service and they're getting a very poor one in many cases.' Read more on our blog – Caveat Rentor – tenants as consumers.

New survey of share house residents

The Tenants' Union and the NSW Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services recently conducted a survey of people who have lived in a sharehouse in NSW over the last five years. Our survey attracted responses from 317 people, and gathered useful information about their experiences. The survey indicates that many people are living in shared housing without written sub-tenancy agreements, with no legal protection against unfair eviction. Respondents overwhelmingly indicated they would support reform to clarify and improve the law for sharehouse residents. Read more

Rental affordability continues to deteriorate

Have your say on Open Forum

Recent reports from Anglicare, SGS Economics & Planning, Community Sector Banking, and National Shelter have confirmed what most tenants already know: rents are as bad as ever in Sydney, and not much better in the rest of NSW. Tenants' Union Senior Policy Officer Ned Cutcher has put together an analysis of just how unaffordable rents currently are, and also explains why this is happening – and why increasing supply is not the solution. Ned's piece has been published on Open Forum – an interactive policy discussion website hosted by Global Access Partners.
Open Forum is currently running an online consultation on the question, 'What can be done to improve housing affordability?' We encourage you to contribute, by making a comment here or emailing housing@openforum.com.au. Contributions close Thursday 8 June, 2017 at midday AEST.

TU training workshop: Hoarding

The Tenants' Union has an upcoming training on hoarding. The workshop is open to tenant advocates, community workers and people working for social housing providers. The workshop is designed to raise awareness of hoarding-related issues and solutions as well as to facilitate network building between tenant advocates, community support workers and social housing providers. The workshop is on from 9am to 4:30pm, 18th July 2017, in Haymarket. Cost: $50. More information and registration.

National Reconciliation Week

The TU was pleased to jointly host a National Reconciliation Week morning tea, to reflect on the next steps needed for reconciliation, and on the powerful Uluru statement.
Our fellow hosts were Community Legal Centres NSW, the National Association of Community Legal Centres and Justice Connect. We were joined by colleagues from Community Legal Centres, Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services, Fair Trading, and the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW.

A victory for our Community Legal Centres

Over the past six months, Community Legal Centres across Australia (including the Tenants' Union and many Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services) have been campaigning against a proposed funding cut of approximately 30% in Federal funding.
We're pleased to announce that with your help, this campaign has had a major victory! Last month, Federal Attorney General George Brandis and Senator Michaelia Cash announced that the government will not be pursuing the proposed cuts. Thank you to all who petitioned, campaigned and contributed!
However, despite this funding lifeline, there will continue to be vast unmet need for legal help in the community. In 2014 the Productivity Commission recommended an immediate injection of $200 million into the legal assistance sector nationwide, simply to meet existing demand for services. The NSW Tenants Advice and Advocacy Program has not had a funding increase since 2002; in that time the number of tenancies has increased 42%. We are stretched way too thin – more funding is still urgently needed.
It's the end of the financial year, so now is a great time to help the TU continue our work for tenants. All donations over $2 are tax deductible.
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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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