Campaigns and law reform – news and analysis

Tenants' Union Annual Report 2019-2020

Tenants' Union Annual Report Cover
The past year has been an extraordinary one for the Tenants’ Union, by any measure. Unprecedented bushfires and then flooding across NSW drove many displaced tenants to tenancy services for support. Several months of natural disasters then gave way to the COVID-19 pandemic which not only drove a record number of tenants to our online resources looking for information and advice but it forced the Tenants’ Union’s own staff to start working remotely. During these external challenges, this year the Tenants’ Union was also forced to look for a new office space and recruit a new CEO. It has been an incredible year of change, but the staff at the Tenants’ Union have taken it in their stride and risen to every challenge. 
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Outasite Lite 38 – land lease communities news

outasite lite cover
Outasite Lite 38 is winging its way across the internet to subscribers' inboxes. Articles in this issue include, "Community recognition for land lease community advocate", "Appeal afoot – fixed method site fee increases", "Review update", "High Court application", "Advice line extension", and "Holiday period closure".
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Promise of a big spend on social housing: Did the NSW budget deliver?

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).
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Celebrating NAIDOC Week: Always Was, Always Will Be.

NAIDOC
Tenant Advocates have joined in NAIDOC 2020 celebrations across NSW, in person and online. Western Aboriginal Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service participated in the Dubbo NAIDOC event. They provided resources and information, and talked about how WATAAS supports the community with tenancy matters.
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What could the NSW Religious Freedoms Bill mean for renters?

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

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”.
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Renting during COVID-19? Take the survey

Graphic image, housingscape in relief with COVID19 stylised virus image in blue background.

City Futures Research Centre at UNSW wants to hear about what is has been like renting during the COVID-19 emergency? Have you tried to negotiate a reduced rent? Take the survey and go in the draw for a $500 voucher.

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Report on the situation for NSW renters during COVID-19 demonstrates struggle ongoing, potentially getting worse

Picture: Report cover - Family in masks in house, covid virus graphic surrounds house
Tenants' Union of NSW Report released today demonstrates the struggle many NSW renters continue to face as a result of COVID-19. The report 'Supporting Renters During the Pandemic' provides evidence of the continued need for support for renting households across NSW during the pandemic and demonstrates the need for an extension and strengthening of moratorium protections.
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Five year review

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At the end of 2020, which has been a very strange year so far, the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (RLLC Act) is due for review. The RLLC Act commenced on 1 November 2015 and the Minister responsible is required to review the Act as soon as possible after five years from commencement. Following the review, a report is to be tabled in each House of Parliament within 12 months after the end of the period of five years. If the RLLC Act review proceeds on time, which looks likely, this report would need to be tabled by 31 October 2021. The purpose of a statutory review of an Act is to determine whether the policy objectives remain valid and whether the terms of the Act remain appropriate for securing those objectives. In this article we delve into the detail of the policy objectives and discuss achievements, failures and what needs to change. 
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Unlawful and lawful discrimination: how the selection process disadvantages some private renters

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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