Tara Steers: Tenant Advocate in South West NSW


Tara Steers

Tara Steers is a Tenant Advocate in Albury. Up until the commencement of the Act in 2015 Tara had limited experience with land lease community residents but after accompanying the Tenants’ Union on a road trip, visiting communities along the Murray River, she developed a passion for the work. Tara is now highly regarded by land lease community residents in the area and her services are constantly in demand.

How long have you been an Advocate?

I became a Tenant Advocate in 2013, four and a half years ago.

Describe your service and the area it covers 

South West Tenants’ Advice Service is part of the state-wide Tenants’ Advice and Advocacy Program funded through NSW Fair Trading. Our service is delivered by VERTO, which is a not-for-profit organisation that has delivered a range of employment, training and community support services for 35 years. Our Service covers a large geographical area in South West NSW. We go from Orange and Bathurst down to the Victorian border and as far west as Wentworth. Our services are delivered from local offices in Albury, Wagga Wagga, Goulburn, Orange and Bathurst. The Service has eight team members delivering advice and assistance to renters – including tenants and land lease community residents.

Tell us about your work with land lease community residents

A large portion of the work I do on a regular basis is providing advice & assistance to tenants and home owners in land lease communities. This can be as simple as providing basic phone advice on a query or it can be assisting a home owner or tenant to make a submission or application to the Tribunal to settle a dispute. Last year I had the opportunity to attend numerous land lease communities in our area to spread the word about the new Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013 and let residents know that our service can help if any issues or questions arise.

What are the current issues for residents in your area?

Electricity charges are big issues at the moment. Both usage and service availability charges, where there are disputes about whether operators are charging residents according to the law. VERTO recently represented a homeowner at the Tribunal and had success in gaining access to a copy of the operators electricity bill under section 83 of the Act. This was a good result because we believe it was the first time that section 83 was put before the Tribunal for interpretation. The Tribunal agreed with our interpretation that an operator must provide a homeowner with reasonable access to electricity bills that the operator is given by their electricity provider.

If you could change one thing for residents what would it be?

I would like to strengthen mandatory education for all operators. The current requirement only covers new operators and appears to be very brief. I believe all operators should have a working knowledge of the legislation that they are acting within and the appropriate penalties should be applied when the legislation is breached.


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