Renters in parliament

At the launch of our 40th anniversary celebrations at the Northcott estate in Surry Hills in February 2016, we asked the three Members of Parliament who attended about their experience renting in Sydney. This is what they had to say...

Jenny Leong, MP

Member for Newtown

I have rented many places. I think my count was something like 10 just in the electorate of Newtown before I was an MP. I’m no longer a renter, but I have had the ups and downs of renting and I’ve experienced the reality of being told two weeks out from my university exams that I need to move out of my rental property. So finding myself trying to look for a place, while I was trying to study.

Jenny Leong MP, Shayne Mallard MLC, Julie Foreman TU Executive Officer, and Tania Mihailuk MP, cutting the cake at the launch of the TU 40th celebrations
Jenny Leong MP, Shayne Mallard MLC, Julie Foreman (TU Executive Officer), and Tania Mihailuk MP, cutting the cake at the launch of the TU 40th celebrations

I found myself in a situation where I had a pet, and trying to find rental accommodation. When you have a dog, as anyone would know, it’s not easy.

But I’ve also known of people in much more desperate situations than myself where because of the challenges around income, or work, they’ve actually struggled to secure any form of rental housing. And that’s a problem for our city, and a real problem for the kinds of communities that we want to live in.

Shayne Mallard, MLC

Member of the NSW Legislative Council

I’ve rented most of my life, and I know how hard it is in Sydney, I know how difficult it is with landlords who ignore their obligations. I’ve seen that time and time again myself.

As a Councillor for 12 years I’ve had many tenants, public housing and private housing, come and see me with genuine issues of landlords not fulfilling their obligations, like maintaining the building and unfair evictions without due process.

Rents going up dramatically is of course another issue. I think that a six-month tenancy period in Sydney is too short.

Tania Mihailuk, MP

Member for Bankstown

I certainly have been a renter in my life and I’ve certainly experienced, like many others, tough times and you rely on getting good advice. In fact, I have actually taken up advice from the Tenants’ Union! It certainly gave me confidence to be able to argue articulately with the landlord and how to progress forward. I think for everybody, every day that you wake up, probably the most important thing in your life is having a roof over your head. And you want to make sure your housing is, at the very best, a long-term arrangement or possibly permanent. I can appreciate that – my parents worried about housing. My grandparents in fact lived here at Northcott in Surry Hills, and I can remember coming and staying here with them in the holiday period. Everyone I’ve ever talked to worries about housing.