Minggu, 04 Maret 2012

Help the TAASs help tenants

We've mentioned a few times the good work of the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services. These are community organisations funded under the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Program (which also funds the Tenants' Union, as a resource body for the TAASs).

Last year the TAASs helped more than 32 000 tenants across New South Wales with phone advice, community education, personal advocacy and representation in the Tribunal.

Now the TAASs are asking for your help.

Baseline funding to TAASs has not increased for almost 10 years. It is as if no additional tenancies have been created since 2002... but, in fact, the private rental sector has grown since then by about a quarter. And the caseload of the TAASs has grown by almost half.

So the TAASs are stretched thin. They need more money to employ more advocates to help more tenants.

The TAASs aren't asking tenants to reach into their pockets and part with any more of their hard-earned money – they figure tenants already part with enough in rent and bond payments. That's where their funding comes from: from a small proportion of the interest earned by monies lodged with the Bond Board and in agents' statutory accounts. Instead, the TAASs are asking for a bit more of that interest earned on tenants' monies to go to the TAASs, to improve their services for tenants.

The money's there: even after paying out significantly larger amounts towards the operations of Renting Services and the Tribunal, and a little bit to tenants individually, the Bond Board has been sitting on mounting surpluses for years.

Over the years two independent consultants have been engaged by Fair Trading NSW to review the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Program; both have reported back that it's a good program that should receive a substantial increase in funding. But to date no action has been taken to increase the funding.

So, please write to the NSW Minister for Fair Trading, the Hon Anthony Roberts, and the NSW Treasurer, the Hon Mike Baird, and ask for better funded Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services, for the collective benefit of all New South Wales tenants.