Welcome to our blog. Staff at the Tenants' Union and occasional guests offer their commentary and analysis of our renting system. We hope to inform, educate and debate the legal, political and cultural aspects of this renting life. If you would like an official quote for media use, or have questions regarding official research, policy or publications please contact us. For more news see also our general news page and for factsheets and sample letters see Tenancy info.


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

18/11/2020
Pic of new housing - neighbourhoods, social housing possibly renewal
In early October NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald suggested social and affordable housing would be a priority in the November NSW budget. In this blog we unpack what is required in NSW in terms of 'more social housing', and what was announced in the budget yesterday (17 November 2020).
Read more

Tracking NSW Govt Future Direction Commitments

17/11/2020
A breakdown of the contracted providers and dwellings under the Communities Plus and Social and Affordable Housing Funds programs.
Read more

80 to 55: the case for lowering the age for early allocation of social housing in NSW

12/11/2020
Older renter - do I need to wait until I'm 80 until I get housing?
In this blog Robert Mowbray puts the argument for lowering the age for early allocation of social housing in NSW from aged 80 years to 55 years. We argue that older people, especially older women, are struggling in an insecure and unaffordable rental housing market and constantly face the possibility of homelessness which has a severe impact on older people, with premature ageing through earlier onset of health problems.
Read more

What could the NSW Religious Freedoms Bill mean for renters?

19/10/2020
Hands holding multicoloured and rainbow hearts
Last week, the Tenants’ Union signed on to a joint statement coordinated by Equality Australia opposing NSW One Nation's Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Freedoms and Equality) Bill 2020, which is currently being considered by NSW Parliament. The Bill would allow people and organisations to use religion as an excuse to hurt, exclude and demean people. Riley Brooke unpacks what the Bill, if passed, could mean for renters.
Read more

Pets and strata - a win! But it's only the first step.

15/10/2020
Photo of young toddler seated next to labrador dog.
On Monday, 12 October 2020 the NSW Court of Appeal found that a strata by-law that places a ban on pets breaches NSW strata scheme legislation and is invalid. A blanket ban on pets, they found, is “harsh, unconscionable or oppressive”.
Read more

Unlawful and lawful discrimination: how the selection process disadvantages some private renters

17/08/2020
For lease sign
In the absence of any legislated right to housing, or rules and guidelines such as waiting lists or criteria determining housing priority (as is the case in public housing), the decision to accept or reject a tenancy application, in the private rental market, is essentially “competitive”. It sits solely in the hands of the landlord, and, in many cases, the real estate agent, who provides expert advice to the landlord. This puts some tenants at a disadvantage when trying to rent a home. It is important to consider the ways tenants can be better protected from discrimination during the rental application process.
Read more

We need to talk about the landlord

07/08/2020
Graphic of a family in a house, wearing masks, virus outside
We don’t only need to talk about the relationship between tenants and landlords – we also need to talk about the landlords themselves. A key flaw exposed through the response to COVID‑19 is the profile of those who act as landlords in Australia. They are heavily indebted. They are mostly without training or expertise. As a result, they were scared and desperate and clinging firmly to the one power dynamic they felt they had control over. The need for a more compassionate response to tenants was as apparent to everyone as were the barriers.
Read more

No grounds for limiting reform under COVID-19

07/08/2020
Graphic of a family in a house, wearing masks, virus outside
Jemima Mowbray looks at the problems renters have faced during COVID‑19, and shows that they are not new or necessarily distinct from the ongoing issues renting households were already facing. The COVID‑19 health crisis has highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities and problems experienced by renters – most acutely, the problems of housing insecurity and the lack of affordable rental housing.
Read more

Responding to tenancy issues under COVID‑19

07/08/2020
Graphic of people in a house, wearing masks, virus outside
The Tenants' Union is attempting to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on tenants, within the limitations we have. In NSW we are already hearing from tenants that landlords have been ignoring requests to negotiate rent reductions from COVID impacted tenants, or delaying responses. They have been offering rent deferrals rather than the reductions as required under the protection framework, and in many cases are deciding for themselves that tenants who meet the definition of ‘impacted tenants’ are not eligible. Too many landlords have not been negotiating in good faith as required under the law, and too many landlords have been using harassment to pursue rental arrears while refusing to participate in rent negotiations with COVID‑19 impacted tenants. Eviction notices have been served to tenants for rental arrears, in spite of the evictions moratorium. No grounds eviction notices are being served to tenants, and landlords are using COVID‑19 as a reason to defer repairs and maintenance.
Read more

Tenancy services needed now more than ever

03/08/2020
A mother and child sitting on a couch. The mother is wearing a face mask.
Pamela Hunter, Community Services Manager at VERTO, writes: "Tenancy, and renting in general, became very popular subjects at the beginning of the pandemic but they seem to have slipped from the headlines of late. At VERTO, my team works with those most vulnerable in the community, the people most at risk of being evicted, even under the protections that have been put in place for this period. Here’s how the pandemic has impacted those most vulnerable in the housing market..."
Read more