Marginal renters – news and analysis

In/formal housing – is more formality the answer?

Leo Patterson Ross at the Housing Theory Symposium
This is the text of an address given by Senior Policy Officer Leo Patterson Ross to the Housing Theory Symposium 2019. Leo argues that "Like water, if we do not get the supply of housing right, it will get to people in uncontrolled ways, providing too much to some and preventing others from getting enough. Along the way, some of it might get tainted and become unhealthy, unsafe. There will always be luxury water, sold in little bottles. But if we ensure cheap tap water continues to flow then those who need it will never go thirsty."
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The Limits of Rights and Protections: Housing as an Essential Service

Out of order sign
Public policy relating to renting and tenancy is typically approached through two competing conceptions: consumer protection and human rights - are we regulating an economic exchange or ensuring that everyone has a roof over their heads? The problems resulting from these, governments resistant to enforceable rights mechanisms and not all tenancies being commercial transactions, mean too many people are denied adequate housing. Perhaps it’s time to explore a different way of framing this issue: through the lens of access to housing as public service provision.
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My home is like my castle

Lewin George
Lewin George, Marrickville tenant
Home means security for me – this is where I feel safe. My home is like my castle, even though it's one room at the back of my landlord's house. I also like to go out, but I value my privacy when I’m at home. The landlord's dogs are good, they keep watch.
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Share Housing Survival Guide (NSW)

Photo of unwashed plates on a sink
Each year, more and more people move into a share house. Now in its third edition, The Share Housing Survival Guide is designed to provide both practical and legal information for people in share housing. This guide is based on the law applying to residents in NSW in June 2016.
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Putting down roots

Alison's garden
Alison's garden
In this piece, boarding house resident Alison Jolly tells her story: "The housing situation for older single women like me (I’m 61) can be difficult unless they own their own home. Many of us divorced our husbands after years of domesticity which had left us unskilled for the work force, without superannuation, and often with an extreme lack of confidence. I think women also like to potter and enjoy homey things like baking etc. so housing is important to them. We also miss out (as do grandfathers) on having our grandchildren visit if our housing is dangerous and unclean."
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When home isn't safe: Queer women and housing

Indigo
Indigo Dunphy, share house tenant
Indigo Dunphy is a 20 year old queer person who, at the time of interviewing, was living in a share house with another queer woman and two straight men. She has a girlfriend who stayed over regularly. She talks about the difficulties of finding a safe and respectful share house to live in.
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At least I have a room

Gretta
Gretta, boarding house resident
This is a story about Gretta, a boarding house resident. She has lived in two boarding houses. The first she liked very much as it included a communal living area as well as shared facilities. About two years ago the building was sold and she had to move out. With the help of staff at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Gretta was able to find cheaper accommodation but the current boarding house doesn’t have any living room space or anywhere outdoors to go.
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