Monday, October 7, 2013

Happy International Tenants Day

The first Monday in October is International Tenants Day. It's a fluke that the day falls on the Labour Day public holiday here in New South Wales – the International Union of Tenants sets the date to coincide with the United Nation's World Habitat Day. The purpose of World Habitat Day is to 'reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter.'

(Tenants make cities!) 

Your Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services work for the realisation of that right throughout the year. In the coming year, however, the work will get tougher, because we'll be without two services that do exceptional work for special groups of tenants and their advocates in the TAAS network.

In the next funding period for the TAASs, there'll be no Park and Village Service and no Older Persons Tenancy Service. The Sydney Morning Herald has an article on the case of PAVS; we'll post word from OPTS in coming days.

A portion of the funding that these two services have previously received is to be rolled into the contract for the general resource service for the TAASs (currently, the Tenants' Union), for the provision of specialist support in relation to residential parks and older tenants. But it won't be the same level of service as provided by PAVS and OPTS.

The other part of the money that used to go to PAVS and OPTS will go instead to the Aboriginal TAASs, who certainly need additional funding, but they'll be the first to say that it shouldn't have to be at the expense of services for park residents and older persons.

Overall, the total amount of funding provided to TAASs will remain the same as under the funding period just ending. It hasn't increased in real terms for 10 years, despite the number of rental households growing by 25 per cent over that time. TAASs are funded from interest earned on tenants' money: bonds lodged with the Rental Bond Board, and monies held in real estate agents' statutory trust accounts. (Actually, just a small fraction of the interest goes to TAASs; much more goes to the State Government.)

Tenants, on your day, remember it's your money, and your services.

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