Housing News Digest

The Tenants' Union Housing News Digest compiles our pick of items from all the latest tenancy and housing media, sent once per week, on Thursdays. 

Below is the Digest archive from November 2020 onwards. From time to time you will find additional items in the archive that did not make it into the weekly Digest email. Earlier archives are here, where you can also find additional digests by other organisations. 

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See notes about the Digest and a list of other contributors here. Many thanks to those contributors for sharing links with us.

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Legal advocates warn against Peter Dutton's pledge to defund the Environmental Defenders Office

Samantha Dick
ABC (No paywall)

Legal advocates warn that federal Opposition Leader Peter Dutton's pledge to defund the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) is a "retrograde step" that would ultimately disadvantage everyday Australians. Their caution comes amid mounting criticism over the legal unit's conduct, after a Federal Court judge accused EDO lawyers of engaging in a "subtle form of coaching" of witnesses from the Tiwi Islands and confecting evidence in an unsuccessful legal battle against Santos's Barossa project, north of Darwin.


# Must read, Legal significance Australia, .

Opinion: After the Voice, what can lawyers do to support First Nations peoples?

Melissa Burgess and Dara Read
Law Society Journal (No paywall)

The Referendum has come and gone, and in its wake, a burning question remains for many lawyers across Australia – what now? And what can the legal sector do to support First Nations people on the road to justice? By engaging in truth-telling and elevating First Nations voices, lawyers can be the change our children need to see, Legal Aid NSW’s Melissa Burgess and Dara Read write.


# Must read Australia, Aboriginal renters.

The housing crisis has pushed thousands onto social housing waiting lists. How could a key government policy help?

Nicholas McElroy
ABC (No paywall)

Dean McCarthy has taken plenty of hits, but housing almost took him out. "Look, I've had over 50 general anaesthetic surgeries in my life," the 62-year-old says. An accident as a younger man resulted in years of hospital visits and ongoing health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder. He says reactive arthritis "galloped" though his body, leaving him unable to work since 2009. "I had very good job, good paying," he says. "I went from that to nothing and the rents became unaffordable." He faced homelessness until he was caught by a safety net he had almost forgotten he had applied for: social housing.


# Hot topic Australia, Public and community housing.

Like a knife through the heart’: two years after his desperate death, George Abraham was asked if he still needed housing

Christopher Knaus
The Guardian (No paywall)

The letter for George Abraham arrived two years after he was buried. Western Australia’s housing authority wanted to know whether he still needed public housing. George’s mother, Barbara, a Noongar woman, remembers it like a knife through the heart. The letter was from the same state government that had dispatched the family into homelessness by forcing them out of public housing in Armadale, a suburb to the south of Perth. Two days after the eviction, George was found dead in a suspected suicide.


# Must read Australia, Aboriginal renters, Public and community housing.

How To Solve The Housing Crisis According To An Economist, A Renting Advocate, And An Investor

George Shiers
Pedestrian (No paywall)

Australia is in a housing and rental crisis. The situation is dire and has never been worse, with housing prices climbing to unfathomable heights and rentals harder to find and more expensive than ever. To find out what needs to be done, PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke to a range of experts to see what they think needs to change to get Australia out of this mess. Do we need to simply build more houses? Do we even have the resources to build the houses governments say we need? Or are policy changes more important to somehow better utilise the housing stock that already exists. We spoke to an economist, a rental advocate and an investor to find out.


# Hot topic Australia, .

Art deco density: what we learned from Australia’s first apartment boom

Maddie Thomas
The Guardian (No paywall)

Almost 100 years ago Sydney was in dire peril from “the ravages of barbarians” – or so the newspaper reports would have had you believe. The perceived danger was one that echoes the current debate raging over density, as Australia’s capital cities struggle to reconcile competing demands for affordable housing and the preservation of heritage. “Flats rear their heads on some of [Sydney’s] noblest headlands,” Brisbane’s Courier reported in 1929. “They are invading suburbs which for years have been the pride of peaceful home-lovers, where the happy laughter of children has resounded in the streets.”


# History Australia, .

Should property investors know if tenants have posted about their last landlord?

Jim Malo
The Sydney Morning Herald (No paywall)

Property managers are routinely checking if tenants have complained about their landlord or real estate agent on social media, particularly during the application process. Agents are likely to tell each other about tenants known to make disparaging comments on social media, the real estate industry peak body confirmed. Meanwhile, tenant advocates report that agents attempt to gain access to closed Facebook groups to see what tenants discuss behind closed doors.


# Hot topic Australia, Discrimination.

Taxes and levies for short-term rentals an option to help increase longer-term rental property availability

Sue Daniel, Jessica Kidd, Xanthe Gregory, and Bernadette Clarke
ABC (No paywall)

Nick Stone has been forced to move three times from one rental property to another over the last 12 months at Batemans Bay on the New South Wales south coast. After a marriage break up and in the middle of a lengthy property settlement, Mr Stone found himself relying on word of mouth to get his first rental, which chewed up 80 per cent of his income per week. "[You] feel very vulnerable and that has a direct impact on health and wellbeing," he said.


# Must read, Hot topic Australia, .

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