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A word from our CEO

Our homes are our safe havens amid restrictions imposed by pandemic public health orders. Many renters, who are overrepresented in vulnerable economic sectors, have lost jobs or hours. 

So, on behalf of our state’s two million renters, Tenants Victoria was pleased to see the State Government confirm an extension of COVID-19 rental protections until the end of the year. Victoria has a good framework for tenants and landlords to come to fair and reasonable agreements for rent reductions. However, it’s also clear more people facing hardship need to take advantage of the process to seek reductions through mediation, if the landlord does not come swiftly to negotiation. 

Our advice for tenants is if you don’t hear back a week after making an approach to your landlord or real estate agent, take it up a notch and contact Consumer Affairs Victoria to pursue your rent reduction. It’s your right to do so – and ensure your home is, indeed, your haven at this challenging time. 

– Jennifer Beveridge

Extensions to rental protections

Our COVID-19 guide for renters provides comprehensive information to navigate our extraordinary times. The recent announcement of rental extensions resulted in the following legal updates to the guide: 

  • Eviction ban until 31 December 2020, unless under certain circumstances 
  • Rent increase ban until 31 December 2020 
  • Rent relief grant increases from $2000 to $3000 

For more information, visit our COVID-19 Guide for renters.

Portraits of a pandemic

"It's the worst rental nightmare I've had to endure in 40 years of renting."

Thank you to the 370 tenants who responded to our recent survey of people’s experiences in seeking rent reduction. Our survey suggests renters facing hardship met significant barriers – reinforced by longstanding power imbalances between landlord and tenants, to taking up the rights afforded to them under the Victorian emergency law.

The role of some real estate agents emerged as troubling and, we suggest, requires further investigation – and remedial action.

Read survey insights

Tell us your lockdown story

Do you have a rental story about living in stage 4 and stage 3 of the pandemic? We’re collecting renters' experiences via our website. 

Share your story

Sharing your experience will help us understand more about what renters are going through in the second wave of the pandemic, contributing to our advocacy to policymakers.

Facebook Q&A this Friday

How will the rental protections extensions affect you and your tenancy? 

We're holding another Q&A session this Friday, where tenants can ask us general tenancy questions including topics such as COVID-19, the metropolitan and regional lockdowns, and the recent extensions. The popular sessions are moderated by our Director of Community Engagement Farah Farouque and tenancy lawyer Georga Wootton.

Send through your questions by commenting in our Facebook event (limit to 1-4 sentences please) before Wednesday 26 August at 1pm. We'll be posting the video answering questions this Friday 28 August at 1pm. 

Training for community services

Tenants Victoria is committed to assisting tenants facing hardship better access rent reductions and engage with the new Rent Reduction Dispute Resolution Scheme. As part our our community engagement, we are conducting training sessions and creating practical how-to resources aimed at community sector organisations and advocacy services in the coming weeks and months. 

If you work in the community sector and  would like to discuss or schedule a practical training session for your organisation to help renters in the community, contact our Training Officer Adrian Campion at admin@tenantsvic.org.au

Radio interview

Among her media engagements last week, our CEO Jennifer Beveridge joined Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive to discuss the challenges of renting in a pandemic – and the policy response.

Listen to the interview

Public Housing

For many of us, our homes represent safety amongst the pandemic. 

But what if that home is overcrowded? 

Just down the road from our office, a Melbourne family shares their compelling account of renting in public housing and contracting COVID-19 during the first wave of the virus. 

Watch Achol's story on SBS  

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
 

Tenants Victoria
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