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.


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

2020-08-17
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.
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We need to talk about the landlord

2020-08-07
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.
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No grounds for limiting reform under COVID-19

2020-08-07
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.
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Responding to tenancy issues under COVID‑19

2020-08-07
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.
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Tenancy services needed now more than ever

2020-08-03
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..."
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Tenants need to be listened to: community support – not heavy-handed policing

2020-07-08
Tall apartment building with 'Our home' on the side
On the weekend over 3,000 public housing tenants in Melbourne were put into an immediate enforced lockdown by the VIC government due to a spike in COVID-19 in the area. Others in the community are not facing the same level of restriction because their housing and community infrastructure is of a higher standard. This is punishment simply for the crime of being poor in a society that places the blame for poverty on the people experiencing it.
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Pursuing a mountain of debt: Landlords’ Insurance

2020-06-12
Coronavirus and economic impacts graphic image. Design photo created by Freepik
This blog explores two aspects of landlords’ insurance and asks whether the practices of insurance companies will change during the COVID-19 crisis. The first is when a tenant falls into rent arrears, in order to make a successful claim, the landlord is required to mitigate their loss by commencing eviction action against the tenant. The second is, where an insurance company has paid out a claim, it can step into the shoes of the landlord and commence action to recover rent arrears through the court system.
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Avoiding the spring of carnage: NSW Government rental assistance during the COVID-19 crisis

2020-06-04
Graphic image, housingscape in relief with COVID19 stylised virus image in blue background.
This blog outlines what rental assistance programs are available to tenants in the private rental market in New South Wales. Further, it asks whether this assistance is adequate to ensure ‘impacted’ tenants have the support required, so their rent does not accrue as a debt ... and become a rent ‘time bomb’ at the end of the COVID-19 crisis.
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Rent affordability in COVID-19: Anglicare report

2020-04-30
Cover of Anglicare Affordability snapshot
Today Anglicare released the latest version of its Affordability Snapshot which looks at the number of available and affordable properties for people on low incomes.
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The NSW evictions moratorium: an explainer

2020-04-16
Wooden cut out of house, small piles of coins placed beside the cut out.
Yesterday (15 April) the measures announced by the NSW Government on Monday to support renters kicked into gear. This means NSW now has implemented a 6 month moratorium on evictions, but it’s complicated. It doesn't cover all evictions, or all renters. This blog post tries to answer some of your immediate questions. Who exactly does the moratorium cover? How will it work in practice? And what about the rent?
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