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A word from our CEO

We’ve entered a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic with the end of the extended Delta lockdown and with it many public health restrictions.

Risks remain, however, for hard-hit renters.

The latest data from VCAT confirms that ‘notices to vacate’ for rental arrears are mounting, with over 500 such notices being issued through the tribunal’s residential tenancies hub each week in October 2021.

Our annual report – out this week – sets out how demand for Tenants Victoria’s legal and information services was magnified beyond expectations in the past financial year.

Amid the welcome news of record high vaccination rates, we anticipate that renters’ need for our services will continue to be high as we move into ‘COVID normal’ – with a long recovery for people most severely impacted.

Take care and stay safe,

Jennifer Beveridge
CEO, Tenants Victoria

A year in tenancy

The pandemic hit home again for Victorian renters this year.

As renters experienced the introduction of new rental laws, the end to emergency COVID-19 rental protections and the pressures of the virus and public health restrictions as ‘Delta’ entered our pandemic vocabulary, the demand for our services was high once again.

Read about how we stepped up to challenging times, made a difference in the lives of renters and more in our Annual Report.

Possession order ruling on COVID-related arrears

A key decision made by the Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeal, recently found that a possession order made by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for COVID-related overdue rent was not valid.

People facing eviction due to COVID-19 related rent arrears should take note of the decision.

If VCAT has made a possession order up to 25 October 2021 for you to move out because of overdue rent, and you were in arrears due to COVID-19, the order may not be valid. If this applies to you, we recommend you contact VCAT immediately as you may be able to stop VCAT from issuing a warrant that could be used to evict you or ask them to cancel a warrant that has already been issued. See our website for more information.

Stormy weather and repairs

The Bureau of Meteorology has just declared a La Nina weather event is now underway which means our wet and wild spring is set to continue to summer.

So what happens if a tree has fallen in a renter’s backyard and has yet to be cleared? Or the roof is leaking?

If a rented home has been damaged, causing an issue for health and safety, there is a process for getting urgent repairs done ASAP to fix the problem.

If you asked the agent or landlord for an urgent repair, but they told you that it can’t be done immediately, you can lodge an urgent-repair application with VCAT. It will hear your application within 2 business days. For more info, see Applying to VCAT on our website.

Remember, when it comes to health and safety, urgent is urgent!

Rent relief grant - there's still time

There’s still time to apply for the Victorian Government’s one-off rent relief grant of up to $1500 to help pay the rent.

Eligibility requirements include that renters have lost at least 20% of their income as a result of the pandemic, on or after 27 May 2021.

Public health restrictions are easing but the pressures of COVID-19 continue. Our just-released Annual Report reveals that COVID-19 inquiries were among the most common our client services team received, and the most visited advice pages on our website.

See our website for eligibility and information.

Catch us on Instagram!

Our Instagram live chats return next week with expert lawyer Georga Wootton (pictured top) and Director of Community Engagement Farah Farouque (pictured bottom). Catch up on the latest in renting as they discuss coming out of lockdown.

Tune in on Tuesday 30 November at 12:30pm on our Instagram.

Snapshot of renting

Victoria’s Commissioner for Residential Tenancies Heather Holst has released her annual snapshot of renting in Victoria, drawing from various data sources. Among trends documented are the growth of owners with two or more properties as well as a steady growth in the number of rooming houses in our state. You can download a copy here.

Talented paralegal recruits join us

We’re really passionate about providing law graduates with real-world work experience while empowering renters through our Practical Legal Training program.

‘Tenants Victoria is fortunate to attract high quality graduates who are interested in the values-driven work of the community legal sector,’ said Agata Wierzbowski, Director of Client Services.

Having joined us last month, our most recent group of volunteer paralegals have settled in and are hard at work learning about how we support renters facing hardship and disadvantage and supporting our work more broadly.

Sharing some good news

A Richmond public housing estate is setting an example on community vaccination, reaching a 100% vaccination rate for all eligible adults over 16 – and exceeding the state average.

The key to the success of this initiative comes from community: ‘It was achieved as a result of a concerted effort led by North Richmond Community Health and 20 employed community members speaking more than 15 languages.’

Tenancy news

Tenants Victoria’s Director of Community Engagement Farah Farouque spoke to Domain’s Sue Williams this month about practical steps renters can take to to resolve disputes with landlords.

'Always remember renters have rights and, in Victoria, recent tenancy law reforms have ensured it’s a more balanced and fairer situation between renters and rental providers.'

Contact us

Visit our website to find answers to many questions – it’s a free community resource for renters.

Our client services team answers renters’ questions via phone and email.

Our phone advice line is open on weekdays, 9.30am-1.30pm. Get in touch via our Contact us page – we will respond as soon as possible. We thank everyone for their patience as we are experiencing very high demand.


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