Why keeping services for tenants open is important – a radio interview!

Belinda Sanders

ABC Southern Qld – Mornings with Belinda Sanders

In an interview with ABC local radio Southern Queensland the Tenants’ Union puts a strong argument about why tenants need and deserve access to independent advice services. We found this audio link on the TUQ website with the following correction:

“When Penny said there were 57 hours of advocacy in the last full year of funding, she meant to say 24,000 hours“. 

Minimum standards for rental properties in Victoria? While Qld Govt strips tenants’ services.

Nearly every product on the market has to meet a set of standards, from food to cars to computers.
A Victorian Greens MP, Greg Barber, believes basic standards should also apply to people’s homes in the private rental sector.  He has proposed legislation for Victoria to establish these standards.
The standards would cover things like structural integrity. The standards might include an electrical safety switch, windows with glass in them, locks, running water, a stove and a sink, protection from damp and its effects.  What do you think?  At a time when private rental properties don’t have to meet basic standards, is it appropriate for the Government to strip funding from tenant advice services?  Who will help tenants exercise their rights to get basic maintenance and repairs done?

Have a look at Greg Barber’s proposal here.

With more tenants than ever, the Government is making more money from our bonds and taking away our services!

Photo: James Brickwood

Across Australia, more people are renting in the private rental sector than previously, in fact there are twice as many renters today than there were in 1981.  And they are renting long term, no longer is private rental a transitional tenure to home ownership.  But renters in Australia have fewer tenancy rights than renters in Europe.

So why is the Qld Government withdrawing funding to tenant advice services?  Especially since the tenancy advice services are self-funded, ie they don’t rely on taxpayers because they are funded by a small portion of tenants’ bond money.  With more tenants, and therefore increased levels of bond interest, the government is in a better position than ever before to allow funding to go to support tenant advice services.

Contact your MP, write to the Premier demand our services back!

See – With more people renting than 30 years ago, change is needed to protect tenants’ rights.

Fraser Coast – Advice still there for tenants despite cuts

Reprinted from the Fraser Coast Chronicle 19th Sep 2013

TENANTS Union Queensland Fraser Coast is reminding people in the region its advice service remains open and available despite funding complications across the past 14 months.

“TUQ Fraser Coast continues to deliver free and specialised tenancy advice both face-to-face and by the telephone to tenants in our community,” TUQ spokeswoman Ros Connor said.

“While funding is still only secured until the end of December, we are very pleased that these much-needed services are still available to local tenants.”

In the past two months TUQ Fraser Coast has helped 188 tenants.

Tenants can access free advice by phoning 1300 744 263 or 41241523

The Greens talk about rent increases

Despite results from the ABC fact checker, rent is expensive……

Reprinted from ABC new online 5-9-13.  Read directly from here.

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam exaggerates rent increases

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam exaggerates rental prices. 
Photo: Greens Senator Scott Ludlam exaggerates rental prices. (AAP: Lukas Coch)

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says household rental costs have doubled across the country and tripled in Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

“Rents across the country have doubled since the year 2000, but in the ACT, Queensland and WA they’ve actually tripled,” Senator Ludlam told the ABC’s The World Today program on August 28.

“It’s actually been a disaster for the third of Australian households that rent.”

Senator Ludlam made the statement after The Greens launched a policy document aimed at easing rental circumstances for Australia’s low income earners.

  • The claim: Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says rental prices have doubled across the country and tripled in the ACT, Queensland and WA since 2000.
  • The verdict: In dollar figures, national rental rates have doubled since 2000 but they have not tripled. According to the real value of the dollar which takes inflation into account, rents have not doubled or tripled anywhere in Australia. Continue reading

(WA) Housing group pushes for hardline eviction rules to be scrapped

Reprinted from ABC News online Thu 22 Aug 2013

Western Australia’s peak housing advocacy organisation wants the State Government to scrap its policy of evicting public housing tenants for minor disturbances.

Shelter WA is urging the Housing Minister Bill Marmion to abandon the policy of evicting tenants for minor disturbances such as excessive noise, minor property damage or domestic disputes.

More than 120 tenants have been evicted under the so-called ‘three-strikes’ policy since its introduction in 2011.

Shelter’s executive officer Chantal Roberts says councils can resolve noise disputes, but by threatening people living in public housing with eviction, tenants are being held to an unreasonable standard.

She says many of the complaints do not justify eviction.

“What our report is asking for is those minor criteria – such as children being overly noisy – to be removed, because they don’t exist in the private sector,” she said. Continue reading

Tenants being offered TVs, iPads and cash to rent properties as mine job losses empty out Mackay

Reprinted from Perthnow – read directly from their site here.

TENANTS are being offered free TVs, iPads, gift vouchers and $2000 cash to rent in Mackay as the effects of mining jobs losses hit the economy.

The city that is the gateway to the Bowen Basin once had one of the tightest rental markets in Queensland, with people forced to live in dongas and garages.

But it now has the highest vacancy rate, with landlords forced to slash rents by up to $100 and offer enticing deals.

One agency has been offering $2000 or $1000 towards the cost of moving (but the money can be spent on anything) plus two weeks’ free rent.

Another advertised a free iPad or 81cm flatscreen TV for a limited period while another was giving away $500 Coles-Meyer vouchers.

Many new four-bedroom, brick-and-tile houses are advertised with one or two weeks’ free rent or promoting the fact that ”We are doing deals”. Continue reading

Are tenants people……..?

This is a long, well written piece (see link below) not directly about tenants or tenants’ rights. It’s a piece about a mine encroaching on a small town and a legal case to stop it coming closer.

However, during the court case, proponents argued that the town would not be gutted by the mine having to buy up the houses in the noise zone because they could tenant the properties. To quote the article,

“The judge began pressing an uncomfortable point; why was it acceptable for mine-worker tenants to be put into houses deemed too exposed to noise for their original owners to live in?”

If you want to go straight to the section on tenants, see Chapter 4, starting the 7th paragraph. There is a very interesting interchange between the Judge and the Government Barrister. The interchange touches on an issue that many tenants and their supporters will be familiar with – the trade off many households are forced to make between maintaining affordable rent costs and accepting conditions which do not meet community standards. The last paragraph in this section quoting the Judge is well worth reading!   Read the article from the Global Mail here.

Senator Nick Xenophon joins Brighton Caravan Park tenants’ fight against Holdfast Bay Council

News from Holdfast Bay, South Australia and reprinted from news.com.au – we think this might be a story to watch!  Read directly from here.

Holdfast Bay SASen Xenophon also plans to arrange for one of Australia’s leading voices on social justice, Tim Costello, to headline a public meeting later this month to help raise money for a residents’ fighting fund.

“I’ve retained the services of a legal counsel to give advice to the residents,” Sen Xenophon told the Guardian Messenger.

“A legal team is being assembled to represent the residents, with a view to have legal proceedings issued on their behalf against the council.”

He said he had been advised by a barrister that the residents could pursue a civil action in the District Court.Senator Xenophon said residents had produced evidence that led them to believe permanent tenants would always be accommodated at the park despite them signing yearly leases. Those representations encouraged tenants to invest their entire savings, in some cases up to $120,000, to purchase homes at the park and make improvements, he said.

The council is planning a $3 million revamp of the seafront park, adding up to 20 cabins, 12 eco-style tents, a leisure area and an upgraded kiosk. The redevelopment plan includes new up-market cabins on the site where the residents live. Continue reading

NSW public housing tenants to be hit with spare bed tax

Reprinted from the ABC news website 26-6-13

New South Wales public housing tenants with extra bedrooms will soon be penalised with a weekly tax if they refuse to move into smaller accommodation.

From September, around 17,000 people living in public houses with extra bedrooms will be slugged with a spare bed tax if they refuse to move into smaller properties.

Singles will be charged an extra $20 per week and couples an extra $30 per week.

Community Services Minister Pru Goward says the tax will create a fairer public housing system by freeing up larger houses for families.

“If there is no suitable smaller accommodation, they don’t have to move and they don’t have to pay the charge, so it’s fair to our existing tenants,” she said.

“We have tens of thousands of families on the public housing waiting list with nowhere to live, people living in the backs of their cars with their kids, we need to get those people into public housing.”

It follows a similar policy adopted in the United Kingdom in April where public housing tenants have their benefits incrementally cut for each spare bedroom.