Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services – news and announcements

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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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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Tenancy services needed now more than ever

A mother and child sitting on a couch. The mother is wearing a face mask.
Pamela Hunter, Community Services Manager at VERTO, writes: "Tenancy, and renting in general, became very popular subjects at the beginning of the pandemic but they seem to have slipped from the headlines of late. At VERTO, my team works with those most vulnerable in the community, the people most at risk of being evicted, even under the protections that have been put in place for this period. Here’s how the pandemic has impacted those most vulnerable in the housing market..."
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Secure, affordable tenancies and support for tenants key to preventing homelessness

TU logo
Today the Tenants' Union NSW's CEO Leo Patterson Ross and Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Jemima Mowbray attended a public hearing of the Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia to speak to the Tenants' Union's submission. We've published our opening statement here.
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COVID-19 factsheet in 7 community languages

Covid-19 community language factsheet
The Tenants' Union has published a basic factsheet in 7 community languages summarising renters rights under COVID-19 regulations. The factsheet has information on paying rent, evictions, the rules on access to rented properties for getting repairs done, inspections for sale of premises, and other issues that renters are facing.
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Reflections on 10 years of Tenant Advocacy

Maz at Tweed Heads
After 10 and a half years, Maralyn Schofield is leaving her role as Coordinator of the Northern Rivers Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service. We took the opportunity to ask her for some of her reflections on the changes she's seen in the world of tenancy – and the things she'd like to see change in future...
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