News

Practical advocacy for social housing tenants

Published on 17/12/2020

Marrickville Legal Centre is home to two tenancy services – the Inner West Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service (IWTAAS) and Northern Sydney Area Tenants Service (NSATS). The services provide free, confidential legal information, advice and advocacy to renters living in social and private residential housing. 

The gap for social housing tenants

The services have recently introduced a Social Housing Clinic (“the Clinic”) for residents of Sydney’s inner west and Northern Sydney area. Established in September 2020, the Clinic is fast becoming a valuable resource for tenants.   

Senior Tenants Advocate Michelle Bogatyrov who runs the Clinic has over 20 years’ career experience across social housing policy, tenancy representation and policy reform. 

“We sought to design a clinic,” says Ms Bogatyrov, “that could advocate, improve, and uphold the rights of vulnerable tenants within the community.” 

Social Housing Clinic

MLC tenants’ services focus on maintaining tenancy for renters and improving their living situation. The Social Housing Clinic helps tenants with a range of social housing and tenancy issues including: 

  • Applying for social housing 
  • Ensuring social housing living standards 
  • Ensuring tenants have adequate repairs made to their property 
  • Assisting tenants with disputes at the NSW Civil Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) 

The Clinic, says Ms Bogatyrov, is a one-stop-shop for advice, education, representation and advocacy. 

The specialised Clinic has already had a huge application within the community. Since September, the Clinic has assisted 72 clients with social housing issues. 37 clients currently receive ongoing support from the clinic.  

Holistic support

“It is rarely ever just a tenancy issue that needs to be addressed”, says Ms Bogatyrov, “People have complex legal needs.” 

Marrickville Legal Centre is known as a one-stop-shop for legal support. Following the “No Wrong Door” approach, the Clinic also assesses clients’ needs beyond their immediate social housing issues.  

Clients have their “legal health” checked across areas including credit and debt, domestic violence, employment and more to ensure their holistic socio-legal needs are met.  

Amanda Dearing, a client at MLC’s Social Housing Clinic, shares:  

“MLC do wonderful work. The introduction of the Social Housing Clinic is a wonderful idea as clients of Social Housing we can be intimidated by process and policy. MLC Social Housing Clinic takes that away and the support we receive and outcomes we achieve are respectful, kind and understanding. I am so happy that my support service Women and Girls Emergency Centre referred me to the Social Housing Clinic.“

How to get in touch

The Social Housing Clinic engages with government social housing services across NSW and continues to grow through word of mouth in the Inner West, Northern Sydney communities and beyond. 

Appointments at the Social Housing Clinic are available weekly: 

  • Mondays 2 – 6pm | 338 Illawarra Road Marrickville 
  • Thursdays 1 – 5pm | 12-14 Seaview Street Dulwich Hill  
  • Fridays 1 – 5pm | Alternating Dulwich Hill and Marrickville offices