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  Issue No 49 Official Organ of LaborNet 07 April 2000  




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Strange Tenants

By Michelle Burrell

Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.

Respected Australian actor and advocate of tenants rights, Michael Caton star from "The Castle" officially launched the kit We can't share the spirit if we cant afford the rent at a public forum on 29 March at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.

Every Olympic Games leaves a legacy. The Olympic industry encourages us to recall medal counts and records broken. The legacy Rentwatchers can see is a segregated city. Our records will be in the numbers of people forced to leave or forced to pay excessive rent.

There is a crisis in housing. The government needs to govern. If they can keep a torch alight under water then the Government should be able to keep a roof over people's heads".

Over 150 local people applauded as the proof file showing the detrimental affect of the Olympics on tenants was released. The kit graphically demonstrated the adverse social impact of the 2000 Olympics on housing in Sydney. The success of the evening can be attributed to members of the audience providing personal accounts of evictions and rent increases.

Concerned residents from the local area condemned the inaction of the state government in protecting the rights of tenants against unscrupulous landlords and real estate agents.

Landowners and Agents the Winners

Over the last two years there have been dramatic rises in Sydney rents. In the lead-up to the Olympics this has become more pronounced. Nick Warren, Policy Officer at the Tenant's Union said that Tenancy Services inner Sydney have seen a near doubling of calls about terminations. Another indication is the escalated number of eviction matters being heard by the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. The Tribunal is taking 125 termination related applications per day.

Rents are monitored quarterly by the Department of Urban affairs and planning, based on the information on new tenancies collected by the Rental Bond Board. The reports for September, and December 1999 are bad news for tenants showing that the increases in the "Olympic corridor" and out to Bondi are as high as 30%

Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia to live in, with rents 40% higher than Melbourne. The median rent for a one bedroom property in South Sydney, Waverly or Leichardt costs $340. A two bedroom property in Waverley will cost you $500, $445 in Leichardt and $400 in South Sydney.

Tenancy laws are failing to protect tenants in the lead up to the Games. The NSW Government is promoting the Sydney Olympic games by calling on Australians to 'share the spirit', invoking the ancient ideals of the games: fairness, community, solidarity and celebration of diversity. At the same time, however the Government is turning a blind eye to the plight of many Sydney siders particularly in regard to housing.

Boarders and lodgers do not have specific legislative rights and are specifically exempted from protection under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 and can be evicted with little notice or right to a hearing at the Residential Tenancies Tribunal. Rent can be increased with little notice. In the lead up to the 1988 Bicentennial over 5,000 low cost rooms were lost across the inner city through conversion of boarding houses to cheap backpacker accommodation or expensive units. The bicentennial was a picnic in the park compared to the Olympics.

Rentwatchers believes that the economic bonanza brought about by the Olympics will adversely affect those sections of the community who are already most vulnerable.

Anita Beaty, from the Atlanta Homelessness Taskforce and Atlanta Olympics 1996 activist stated "I can tell you that a major event like the Olympics can turn decent progressive people into very greedy, speculative people. You cannot be too careful, you cannot be too vigilant. We did it wrong, y'all can do it right".

Rentwatchers is a community coalition for the protection of tenants and the housing rights of low income residents of Sydney. For more information contact Rentwatchers on 9698 7277 or 9398 6366


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 49 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Rebuilding from the Rubble
Ramona Mitussis, APHEDA's co-ordinator in East Timor reports on how Australian workers are contributing to rebuilding a nation.
*  East Timor: UN Poseurs Delay Reconstruction
Returning to the Dili compound where he spent five days under siege, HT Lee finds an aid bureacracy out of control.
*  Unions: The Last Bank in Minto
"It's a busy branch", Carol Davison insists, watching the crowd gather around the Commonwealth Bank branch at Minto Mall. By the time you read this, the branch will be another empty shopfront, stripped of its fittings, with junk mail starting to accumulate under the front door.
*  International: Workers of the World Unite
ILO Director-General Juan Somavia's keynote address to the ICFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa this week.
*  Olympics: Strange Tenants
Rentwatchers lifts the lid on the legacy the 2000 Games will leave on Sydney's tenants.
*  Politics: The Loneliness Crisis
Lindsay Tanner looks at the politics of the soul that form the backdrop of many of our social ills.
*  History: Songs of Solidarity
Visiting US labour acadmeic John Lund has found a new way to digest history - he commits workers' struggles to song.
*  Satire: Seven Launches 'Popstars' Spin-off
On the heels of Popstars comes a new show taking five minor celebrities and turning them into normal people
*  Review: Keating's Engagement
Whether it's analysis or self-justification, Paul Keating's new book is an engaging read.

»  Free East Timor? For the Workers, It's Just Cheap
»  Maria Wins Historic Email Test Case
»  More Hot Air: Cyclone Telstra Hits Townsville
»  Cleaners Walk: We Are Humans, Not Robots!
»  Reith's Day in the Dock Draws Near
»  Olympics Tickets: One Size Doesn't Fit All
»  Back Door Sell-Off of Nursing Home Beds
»  Entitlement Changes Fail to Protect Workers
»  Shaw Sets Safety Guidelines
»  Water Workers Ready to Walk
»  Honour for Jack Mundy
»  Lindsay Tanner Chat Session
»  Radio Free East Timor Fundraiser Thursday
»  Workers Online Turns 50 Next Week!

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Public Meeting: Globalised Capital and International Labour.

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