In November almost 100 Tenant Advocates and guests gathered on Yuin Country for our annual conference. The theme of the conference this year was "Standing Strong" – in reference to the work Tenant Advocates do supporting tenants, especially through tough times like the last few years.
Across NSW, Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services (TAASs) provide information, advice and advocacy to tens of thousands of renters each year. There are 15 generalist TAASs, 4 specialist TAASs for Aboriginal tenants, and a specialist resourcing body for the Aboriginal TAASs. Each is run by a local non-government organisation. They are funded by NSW Fair Trading under the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Program, which uses money from the Rental Bond Board Interest Account and the Property Services Statutory Interest Account. The Tenants' Union of NSW is the main resourcing body for the network of TAASs in NSW.
The Network of Aboriginal TAASs plays a crucial role within the broader Network – educating us and defending the rights of Aboriginal renters across all the many unceded Aboriginal Countries. This year we were privileged to meet in Batemans Bay in Yuin Country, and hear from elder Rod Slokee, who spoke to us about customs, culture, food, and history.
Tenant Advocates are legally-trained experts in tenancy law. We work hard to keep our knowledge up-to-date in an ever-changing legal and renting landscape. The annual conference, organised by the Tenants' Union, is a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences across the very different contexts we work in – from cities to regional areas, from the private market to social housing, from boarding houses to land lease communities, and beyond.
The conference included sessions on:
The NSW Fair Trading complaints process
Set Asides at the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal
The Bugmy Bar Book and Aboriginal tenants
AI and renting, with a focus on automated decision-making in determining rental applications