Personal stories

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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Advocating for independent living

Mary and Amanda
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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Advice and advocacy for renters in every community

Tenant Advocates at the Network Meeting
Tenant Advocates are hard at work all across NSW – making sure tenants know their rights, so we can keep on building good homes and communities. Here are some of the recent examples of the work of our Network, from stalls in the community, to our Network Conference, to winning compensation for tenants, to resisting unfair evications, and helping tenants who are facing mutiple disadvantage.
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Tenants' Union Annual Report 2018-2019

Tenants' Union Annual Reports
It's been another year of great results for the Tenants' Union of NSW: 1 million sessions on tenants.org.au for critical renting information; 3,934 people helped with their renting issues; 1,500 workers trained in Residential Tenancy law; $80,000 recovered for 93 parks residents overcharged for electricity; We got 'no grounds' evictions on the political and media agenda, and built support for changes to make renting laws fairer. Read more in our Annual Report.
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NEWTAAS 2019 Annual Report

NEWTAAS team
It has once again been an incredibly busy year for the New England and Western Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service. This year we have had a few changes in staff, as well as significant casework and law reform challenges to deal with. In this Annual Report you'll also find short case studies and learn about cases where we’ve felt that we’ve been able to assist a client who really needed us.
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Reflections of a Blue Mountains Tenant Advocate

Jo Hibbert
Jo Hibbert has been a Tenant Advocate at the Blue Mountains Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Service for seven years. Now she’s retiring for a well-earned break, so we took the opportunity to ask her for some reflections about her time in the world of tenancy. She talks about some of her experiences at the Tribunal, and the way the workload for Advocates has increased, but the funding hasn't. She also tells the story of a tenant who she defended from eviction six times!
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17 years of advocacy in Regional NSW

Chris Maybin
Chris Maybin has been a Tenant Advocate with VERTO South West Tenants’ Advice Service for 17 years. Now she's moving on, but in this interview she gives some of her thoughts and reflections on her experiences. She talks about having to tell a family they were going to be homeless, and being "cursed" by a landlord! She also explains some of the particular challenges faced by tenants and Tenant Advocates in regional New South Wales.
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