Two years ago, as the historic suburb of Millers Point was finally being eyed off by a state government desperate for revenue, the Tenants Union noticed that due to that very history, many of the properties being eyed off were exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act, and from the jurisdiction of the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Last week, as reports of the first official notices of termination for Millers Point residents come in, we discovered that Housing has closed that exemption- making the job of removing residents somewhat easier.
You can read more about the exemption in the original blog post, and its implications in a Shelter NSW briefing paper- both of which will now require some amendment to be current, but are still very good documents of the situation at the time.
Back then, we alerted Housing NSW and their legal team to this exemption and they were unaware of the issue. We figured it created as many problems as it solved for the residents, and would have increased the cost of any disputes beyond the reach of most of the people affected- except for HNSW's legal team.
That said, we are disappointed this change came without notice or consultation from FACS Housing. If not for the vigilant eyes of tenant advocates, residents of these properties may not have seen the change before relying on the regulation as it had been until only a few days ago. Government should be open and transparent in its dealings, particularly when it comes to the dealing of land. Changing the legal status of hundreds of vulnerable people is not something that should happen in the dark, tucked away down the back of the Government Gazette.