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A word from our CEO

The pandemic year has been deeply challenging for many renters who’ve lost jobs or hours — and felt their sense of security slip away. We have a window into these challenges from the nearly 65,000 agreements which have been formally registered as rent reductions with Consumer Affairs Victoria.

The package of emergency rental protections introduced by the Victorian Government to cover COVID-19 has been helpful in a painful year, but the figure cited above also points to the minimum number of tenancies where pre-COVID rent payments are now likely unsustainable.

Leading up to March 2021, as we grapple with the scenario when key COVID-19 protections expire and we transition to the new Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, Tenants Victoria will continue to speak up for our state’s two million renters.

Our work with renters on the ground this year has shown that, sometimes, we aren’t all in this together. It was a privilege to be able to help those who came to us for help to find safety and security in their homes. As a new year emerges, we remain focused on helping people to find safe, secure and affordable homes – an essential foundation for a good life.

May the festive season be calm and restful after the storm of 2020.

– Jennifer Beveridge

COVID-19 Guide updates

We have entered a new ‘COVID normal’ setting and with it rights to enter a rental property, as well as the rules for moving out of a rental property, have changed. 

Cleaners and removalists are now allowed to work. They must have a COVIDSafe plan in place which includes hygiene and physical distancing measures, and the use of face coverings and record keeping. 

The recommendations for all people entering a rental, including for inspections, still includes the provision of face masks, gloves, and hygiene practices. 

See the Rights of Entry and Moving Out pages in our helpful COVID-19 Guide for up-to-date information – our guide has had more than 338,000 page views so far.

A year of renters' stories

In 2020, we released the Portraits of a Pandemic survey, which highlighted tenant voices around Victoria.  Thank you to all of those who have shared their stories.

Now, after a challenging year, we have opened our 'Steps out of COVID' survey. We want to hear from as many renters as possible about their experience of renting throughout the pandemic. 

Real stories are powerful for our advocacy as the peak body for renters. It takes less than 10 minutes to complete, and your contribution is valuable in helping us advocate for safe, secure and affordable homes for every Victorian renter in a fair housing system. The survey closes at 11:59pm on 4 January 2021.

Take our survey.

Reaching the community

Our outreach to multicultural communities has seen our new Community Engagement Officers Aguer Athian (team leader), Ali Nazari, Alan Loow and Ramya Assad hit the ground running in November. 

Leveraging the skills of our legal team, last month we collaborated with 20 community groups, including training with the Victorian Afghan Association Network and the Centre for Multicultural Youth’s South Sudanese staff in Dandenong and Melton. Other groups we’re working with include the Victorian Multicultural Commission, the Islamic Council of Victoria and the Preston Mosque welfare team. 

Collectively, our engagement officers speak the following languages: Arabic, Dinka (South Sudan), Kiswahili (East Africa), Dari (Afghanistan), Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay. 

Renting in summer

It’s official: summers are getting hotter every year so tenants with air-conditioning provided by their landlord should check it’s all in working order for the hot days ahead.

The law is clear that repairing and maintaining the air-conditioning in your home is their duty, not yours.

If something goes wrong with the unit they installed you can ask for a repair. If the landlord objects or delays the repair after they’ve been notified of the problem, you can take action to ensure it gets fixed.

In our latest article, we explain the steps you might need to take, and more importantly, not take, if you don’t want to be sweating through summer.

Christmas closure

From all of us at Tenants Victoria, we wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday period. Our office will be closed from 5pm Wednesday 23 December 2020 for the festive season and will reopen at 9am on Monday 4 January 2021. 

If you require urgent legal advice during this period, please contact Legal Help on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm. 
 

Urgent VCAT help

Tenants Victoria now offers help at VCAT hearings at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal via our VCAT Duty Lawyer Service.

Our new VCAT Duty Lawyer Bill Maloney can assist tenants at urgent, upcoming VCAT hearings that are listed within one week of contacting this service.

The service is directed towards tenants facing the prospect of losing their rental property, or for matters of an urgent nature related to health or safety. 

Visit our VCAT emergency lawyer page for eligibility and information, or email us at: duty.lawyer@tenantsvic.org.au. This service will reopen after the holidays.

Facebook video

For our final Facebook Q&A session for 2020, our Director of Community Engagement Farah Farouque and tenancy lawyer Georga Wootton answered your curly questions on rent reduction renewals, the Consumer Affairs Victoria process for this, the Victorian Government’s $3000 rent relief grant and rent increases.

You can watch their discussion on our Facebook page. If you haven’t already, like and follow us on Facebook for tenancy news updates and to catch our monthly Q&A sessions as they kick off again in 2021.

Furry silver lining

Since new pet laws were introduced in March, many hearings at VCAT have been decided in favour of tenants.

These pet laws allowed many renters to become pet owners for the first time, offering the timely comfort of pet ownership in the challenging months of the pandemic.

If you’re thinking of getting a pet of your own this holiday season, read about Pets and your tenancy for more information on how to complete the process.

Tenants Victoria
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