Tenant Advocate's perspective – Sonya Mooring, Murra Mia Western TAAS


We took the opportunity of a recent visit to Murra Mia Western Aboriginal Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service to interview Sonya Mooring, the Tenant Advocate and Team Leader... 

Tell us a little about your position and what you do on a day-to-day basis?


I am the Team Leader at Murra Mia Western Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service. We have catch-ups every morning where we prioritise urgent matters and assign casework. I also support my team with supervision and training.

One of my main responsibilities involves duty advocacy at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). At the Tribunal I represent clients in a legal capacity, advocating for their rights and interests during hearings. I also handle a range of other Tribunal-related matters, which involve evidence preparation, research, and drafting to strengthen our clients' positions. I provide advice and assistance to clients via phone and through visits in the community. 

As an Aboriginal Tenant Advocate in a regional area, what are some of the most common housing problems you have been assisting people with recently?

The issues that come most often are rent arrears, evictions, repairs, bond, and access to the Tribunal. 

What would you like to see change for tenants in NSW?

I would like to see improved access to the Tribunal – it needs to be more accessible to renters. Landlords use the Tribunal at a much higher rate than tenants. A very large proportion of the NCAT matters brought by landlords are to evict tenants for rent arrears. On the other hand, renters find it difficult to use the Tribunal to assert their rights, whether that is trying to get repairs done or get their bond back. 

We also need to get rid of 'no grounds' evictions. This unfair aspect of our tenancy laws makes renters afraid to speak up about repairs and other problems. Landlords should be required to give a reason if they want to evict someone from their home. 

I would also like to see more housing – public, community and affordable. There are tenants who work and do not qualify for social or community housing, but also cannot afford private rental.

What are some of the ‘top tips’ you would you give to tenants?

The top tips I give to tenants are:

  • Always pay your rent
  • Seek advice as soon as possible
  • Keep records of your tenancy (letters, diary, notes) for example every time you request a repair you should keep a record of this even if you ask over the phone
  • Contact your landlord or Tenants Advice Service when you have an issue – it’s always best not to ignore the problem and to try and address it as soon as possible

What keeps you motivated to go to work each day?

I am motivated to help make a difference for tenants in our community. I also have a great team – my colleagues are fantastic. 

You help a lot of people maintain their homes, what does your home mean to you? 

My home means everything – it means stability, security, safety, and family.





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