Families – news and analysis

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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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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We need to talk about the landlord

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

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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A day in the life of Esther Smith, Tenant Advocate

Esther at GSATS
Esther Smith is a Tenant Advocate at the Greater Sydney Aboriginal Tenants' Service (GSATS). In this interview she talks about her day-to-day experiences as an advocate, as well as what keeps her motivated and inspired.
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Tenants need to be listened to: community support – not heavy-handed policing

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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Important changes to rental laws – 23 March 2020

Picture reading "Tenancy law changes: new rules for renting in NSW from 23 March..."
Important changes to tenancy law have come into effect as of 23 March 2020. These changes affect anyone renting a property in NSW (including people who rent both home and site in residential land lease communities). We have been working hard to update our factsheets so that you can be sure that this site is accurate and you're reading the most up-to-date information.
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Advocating for independent living

Mary and Amanda
Mary Flowers and Amanda Elgazzar – Northern Rivers Tenant Advocates.
Recently, the Northern Rivers Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service was able to assist a tenant to maintain her independent living. The tenant lives in social housing, in a modest three bedroom home where she has lived all her life, in a country town. She has a severe visual impairment, and until recently was cared for by her mother. Sadly, her mother passed away not long ago. Her mother held the tenancy, so when she died, our client was given a six month fixed term agreement, while her eligibility for social housing was assessed.
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Sector welcomes important reforms to tenancy laws to further protect victims-survivors of domestic violence

Logos
We welcome the passing today of important legislation to improve the safety of domestic violence victims-survivors renting in NSW. Today’s Bill strengthens reforms which commenced in February this year which allow victims-survivors of domestic violence to end their tenancy immediately without penalty.
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Millers Point: through the looking glass

Jane Bennett Lower Fort Street
Robert Mowbray reflects on the forced relocation of public housing tenants from Millers Point. He collects a selection of posts that report and discuss on the events and issues.
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