Strong communities – news and analysis

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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Appeal afoot – fixed method site fee increases

Bob Morris
In Outasite Issue 6 (August 2020) we wrote about fixed method site fee increases and mentioned three communities where those methods were being challenged by home owners. Home owners from the Palm Lake Resorts are still awaiting a hearing before the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal Appeal Panel, however the Tribunal handed down the decision in Morris and Ors v Kincumber Nautical Village on 3 September.
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Celebrating NAIDOC Week: Always Was, Always Will Be.

NAIDOC
Tenant Advocates have joined in NAIDOC 2020 celebrations across NSW, in person and online. Western Aboriginal Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service participated in the Dubbo NAIDOC event. They provided resources and information, and talked about how WATAAS supports the community with tenancy matters.
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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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A 20 Year Vision for Housing - where are the renters?

NSW Housing Strategy Discussion Paper 2020
The TUNSW submission to the NSW Housing Strategy provides a focus on the need to address crucial issues for people renting their homes in NSW. We've published our submission and recommendations that encompass key priorities for renters.
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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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Strata renters: have your say on renewable energy

Rooftop solar
We know that renters' voices are often missing when it comes to discussions about renewable energy and strata living. But there is currently an opportunity to be heard, as the NSW government is looking at initiatives to boost renewable energy and reduce power bills for people who live in apartments rather than houses. This year will also see a statutory review of strata law, which is a very good time to be engaged in the conversation. If you rent in an apartment, townhouse or villa, please fill in this new survey which looks at the barriers to installing sustainability infrastructure (i.e.solar panels, batteries, smart meters, efficient hot water systems etc).
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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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