Privacy and access – news and analysis

No country for young renters

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Young renters do it tough. Expensive rents, share houses, problems with flatmates, the risk of eviction, dodgy landlords, worry about bonds and outstanding repairs are just the tip of the iceberg. While renters under the age of 25 make up a significant percentage of tenants in NSW, and are living in some of the worst conditions, our research has shown they do not contact Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services (TAASs) at the same rate as other age groups. We want to change that!
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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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Staying Connected – TAAS Conference 2020

TAAS Conference 2020
Last week, over 100 Tenant Advocates participated in our first online Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services Conference. We explored a range of topics, including changes to tenancy laws, policy reform, and advocate work practice. We looked in detail at the effects COVID-19 has had on tenants lives, the Tribunal’s practices, tenancy law, and mental health. 
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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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Supporting older renters to 'age-in-place'

Older woman holding drivers license - DCJ Housing image - Seniors Strategy
Recently the Tenants’ Union of NSW made a submission to NSW Department of Communities and Justice as part of their consultations for the next NSW Government strategy for seniors. We recommended the NSW Government implement policy and benchmarks that ensure older renters are supported to remain living in a community they have a strong attachment to, either in their existing residence or alternate local accommodation with service supports.
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Renters' Guide to COVID-19

Renters' Guide to COVID-19
The Renters' Guide to COVID-19 covers common questions about renting in New South Wales during the Coronavirus pandemic. The Tenants' Union of NSW is working hard to keep this Guide up to date.
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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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Responding to tenancy issues under COVID‑19

Graphic of people in a house, wearing masks, virus outside
The Tenants' Union is attempting to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on tenants, within the limitations we have. In NSW we are already hearing from tenants that landlords have been ignoring requests to negotiate rent reductions from COVID impacted tenants, or delaying responses. They have been offering rent deferrals rather than the reductions as required under the protection framework, and in many cases are deciding for themselves that tenants who meet the definition of ‘impacted tenants’ are not eligible. Too many landlords have not been negotiating in good faith as required under the law, and too many landlords have been using harassment to pursue rental arrears while refusing to participate in rent negotiations with COVID‑19 impacted tenants. Eviction notices have been served to tenants for rental arrears, in spite of the evictions moratorium. No grounds eviction notices are being served to tenants, and landlords are using COVID‑19 as a reason to defer repairs and maintenance.
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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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