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A word from our CEO

Treasurer Tim Pallas said in his Budget speech earlier today that "2020 has been a cruel year".

Renters who lost their jobs or hours have shouldered great burdens in a tough year for us all. Today's Victorian Budget announcements, with their focus on jobs and housing, offer a framework of hope as the state mounts its recovery into 2021.

As an organisation that has long argued, with other community sector colleagues, for significant social housing spending we embrace the Andrews Government's commitment to build 12,000 new houses over the next four years, including a significant commitment to provide 9300 new social housing homes. Most of this build will comprise community housing but it also includes replacing 1100 old public housing units – a much needed measure in Victoria.

We sincerely hope the Federal Government will come to see the wisdom – and social dividends –in also investing in safe, secure and affordable housing for the post-pandemic world.

- Jennifer Beveridge

Our Budget statement

Beyond big commitments to social housing in the 2020-2021 Victorian Budget, there were other measures targeted at renters. 

Among them, $80 million has been set aside in April 2021 to continue to provide support to keep tenants in their homes after pandemic rental protections expire. There is also provision for a further $6 million to ensure Consumer Affairs Victoria continues to provide support through the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme and the Residential Tenancy Relief Scheme.

Read our Victoria Budget statement.

Share your story

As we navigate 'COVID Normal', Tenant’s Victoria invites more people to share stories about renting during the pandemic. 

Renters’ experiences are the most powerful advocacy tool we have. Stories from the community help us in our work to improve tenancy laws and work to our goal of safe, secure and affordable housing for every Victorian who rents their home. We want to find out more about how you as a renter have been affected by this pandemic – the challenges you face – as our state moves to find a new COVID Normal. 

Have your say – take our 'Steps out of COVID' survey and share your story in your own words.

New Annual Report 

Our 2019-2020 Annual Report is now on our website, and available to read. 

In the past financial year, our legal team has answered 9999 enquires, handled 523 active cases, and consulted in 1656 cases with other service providers. Intersecting with the first phase of the pandemic, during this period our website had more than 1.76 million page views and our factsheets and handbooks were accessed more than 1.25 million times.

We’ve also welcomed vital changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 which has strengthened family violence protections. New pet laws came not a moment too soon, allowing tenants for the first time the right to keep pets at new rentals with written permission from the landlord. Introduced a few weeks before the first of Victoria’s restrictions, this was a huge win for renters facing the challenging months ahead.

Read the 2019-2020 Annual Report on our website.

Student advisory group

In February, international students were among the first groups of renters to contact us for urgent assistance due to the pandemic. Many have remained under pressure through the year with some reportedly forgoing food to pay bills. We’ve responded to this challenge by creating a new role – an International Students Tenancy Outreach Worker.

For the past months, with support from Study Melbourne, our Outreach Worker Divvya Sivarajah has been providing free support services for international students living in rooming houses in the north west region of Melbourne, completing wellbeing assessments and support referrals. 

This month, a new Student Advisory Group was formed to boost our work. We look forward to their contributions so we can improve our support for international students.

Read more information about our support for international students.

COVID-19 updates

Our team has been working to keep our website updated with key information for tenants as they navigate a changing renting environment during this pandemic. 

Check our COVID-19 guide for recent updates to rights of entry and public safety, as well as information on rent increases, evictions, gaining rent reductions and rent relief.

 

Support for Arabic speakers

Tenants Victoria welcomes Ramya Assaad as a new recruit to our team.

As part of a new pandemic support project,  Ramya – a fluent Arabic-speaking community worker – joins our three other multilingual community engagement officers to help liaise with culturally diverse renters and community groups. This work will improve access to online resources and increase awareness of Tenants Victoria’s legal services for multicultural communities. Our four-person team, made possible by the State Government’s Working for Victoria funding initiative, now comprises proficiency in the following languages, Dinka (South Sudan), Kiswahili, Dari (Persian), Cantonese, Mandarin and Malay.

New campaign

This month, Tenants Victoria launched a public awareness raising poster campaign on COVID-19 rental measures – including the availability of rental relief grants. The posters appeared at select shopping centres across Victoria and social media.

The information shared in this campaign is also on our website.
 

Contact us

Have a question about something not covered in this newsletter or on our website?

Our tenants advice line is available from Monday to Friday 10am-2pm. Our informed legal team is answering renters' questions via phone and email. Please contact us and we will respond as quickly as possible. We thank everyone for their patience during this time as we are currently experiencing very high demand.

Contact us
 

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