Friday, April 24, 2015

Bye and thanks, Chris

The Tenants' Union farewells its Senior Policy Officer, Dr Chris Martin.

Chris' tenure has been a long and distinguished one, spanning more than a decade. He joined the Tenants' Union's staff in 2002, after a stint as a Tenants' Advocate with the Southern Sydney Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service. He's worked long and hard to make the world a better place, by making it a better place for renters.

Chris can take a great deal of credit for many of the Tenants' Union's headline achievements over the last ten years.

He contributed to and influenced the review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987, on behalf of tenants and the Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Services. This saw some significant changes (in the subsequent Residential Tenancies Act 2010) to the way our renting laws deal with things like co-tenancies and dealing with a listing on a residential tenancy database. It also saw a number of irksome things in the law resolved in tenants' favour, such as ensuring that a free method of paying the rent must always be offered when starting a new tenancy, and making it harder for landlords to simply dispose of a tenants worldly goods and possession after ending one.

He lead the development of the TU's plan for reform of the marginal rental sector - significant parts of which were picked up in the Boarding Houses Act 2012. Unfortunately some other parts were not, and there remains a good deal of work to do. Renters who are left out of New South Wales tenancy and boarding house legislation still lack even most basic legal protections, and access to dispute resolution processes. Chris' work in this area leaves a solid platform on which further reform can, and must, be built.

Chris also made sure the Tenants' Union was an early convert to the idea that advocates for affordable housing must grapple with taxation policies at both the State and Commonwealth levels. He's never missed an opportunity to remind us that any discussion about affordable housing needs an analysis of what motivates our nation's landlords, and that the impacts of unaffordability are most keenly felt in the private and marginal rental markets.

But it hasn't all been about the headlines. During his time at the TU Chris attained his doctorate of philosophy with a thesis on governing crime and disorder in government housing in New South Wales, and he authored the 4th edition of the Tenants' Rights Manual. He's written extensively on tenancy related law reform and policy, ranging from the most broad and overarching ideas to the minutest detail about the impact of legal decisions and crafting of legislation. He's the keenest and most entertaining - perhaps even obsessive - tenancy historian you're ever likely to come across... and always staunchly in favour of a better deal for renters.

We really can't do Chris' work justice in just a few short paragraphs, and we encourage you to take a look through the archives at the many contributions he's made to this blog. It gives great insight into the depth and breadth of Chris' knowledge and interest in all things tenancy - after all, he's also the founding and most prolific blogger on the Brown Couch.

We're sure going to miss him.


  1. My first comment disappeared. Shorter version - you rock Chris. It was a pleasure to know you all those years ago & a delight to watch your stellar contributions to tenancy justice. Best wishes, Peter Mott

  2. Farewell Chris! You will be sorely missed and will be leaving big shoes to fill. Best wishes and good luck on your next adventure!! Sandie Marr (formerly NORTAAS)

  3. A formidable intellect!

  4. All the best Chris, you will be sorely missed both on the Brown Couch and at the TU.
    I hope your future path is as successful with good health and happiness.


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