Housing affordability – news and analysis

Requests for access during lockdown?

Hand knocking on door
The Public Health Orders so far have continued to allow landlords and their agents to force a range of entries into residential premises against the wishes of the occupants and their attempts to follow health advice. We want to hear from renters about any requests for access they've received - e.g. routine inspection, viewing appointments, repairs or maintenance, other - you have received since the start of the NSW lockdown period. We will be using information collected to advocate for tougher restrictions on access to rental housing during lockdown.
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Call for systemic change amid Northern Rivers housing crisis

Sally
The Northern Rivers region is beset by soaring rental prices, social housing issues, a crisis of housing instability and homelessness. In this article Sally Latter, Coordinator of the Northern Rivers Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, shows why it's time to end no-grounds evictions and transform the housing system.
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Young Renters: We hear you!

Vanessa
A new report by the Tenants’ Union of NSW and Youth Action digs into issues facing renters under 30. Young people’s voices feature, with quotes taken from the 304 responses to our survey of young renters, as well as observations from the 15 young renters who engaged in our young renter roundtable discussions.
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What you need to know about rent bidding

Auctioneer's hammer - graphic representation
Rent bidding happens when there’s a shortage of available rental properties, so prospective tenants make an offer to pay rent above the advertised price in order to secure a property. Now, we don’t blame renters for this. Right now, a rental crisis continues to unfold across much of regional NSW.  With so few properties available to rent, there are dozens if not hundreds of applicants for every property, and renters are becoming desperate to find a home. We are seeing a rise in agents and landlords taking this opportunity to actively solicit rent bidding to maximize income and exploit desperate tenants, which we think is unethical and unlawful.
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40 organisations publish open letter calling for stronger protections during COVID transition

Text reads Regional NSW in rental crisis - Extend the eviction moratorium
40 community organisations sign on today to Open Letter calling for stronger protections and additional financial support for COVID impacted renters through transition 
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Responses to Homelessness, January 2021

Line drawing of a blue house
Check out our submission to the NSW Audit Office's Audit of the NSW Government's responses to homelessness. Everyone deserves a safe, secure, affordable home, and the NSW Government is failing to meet its commitments to ensure our communities' well-being.
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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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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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Fair market value

Philomena and Ian
This article is not about home sales, although that is what gives rise to the issue, it’s about site fees and site fee increases. Fair market value appears in sections 109 and 111 of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 (RLLC Act) and is a small but important provision that sets an upper limit on site fees in new site agreements when a home has been sold by one home owner to another. Fair market value is the higher of either the site fees payable by the home owner who is selling the home, or the site fees payable for residential sites of a similar size and location within the community. It seems very straightforward, but in reality the provision has been ineffective and site fees are often set much higher than fair market value. Over time this practice lifts the site fees in a community to higher and higher levels, yet there is no scrutiny over these increases.
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Fixed method site fee increases

Bob Morris
The concept of increasing rent or site fees by a fixed method is not new. Fixed method increases were possible and did happen under the (repealed) Residential Parks Act 1998. What the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act (RLLC Act) introduced is specificity regarding what a fixed method may be, and that is what we examine in this article. The RLLC Act provides that site fees may be increased by a fixed method which may be either: (i) by fixed amounts, or (ii) by a fixed calculation (for example, in proportion to variations in the Consumer Price Index or in the age pension).
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