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A word from our CEO

The coming months pose new risks for renters.

The Federal Government flagged this week that COVID-19 disaster payments will be swiftly scaled back as vaccination rates rise. We share concerns expressed across the social services sector that it will be challenging for people who aren't working to fully rejoin the labour force when economies reopen, as it’s unlikely to be an immediate return to business as usual.

The risks, once again, are very real for Victorian renters already facing pandemic hardship through months of lockdown. Many in this category have rental arrears to contend with.

Our state does not have an eviction moratorium in place, but the Victorian Government has introduced some relief via targeted financial support for renters hard hit by public health restrictions.

The one-off support by way of grants are worth up to $1500. There are steps involved to qualify, but I urge renters facing lockdown rental stress to apply for support if they think they would be eligible.

Take care,

Jennifer Beveridge
CEO, Tenants Victoria

Welcome relief for renters

Earlier this month, the Victorian Government announced rent relief grants targeted at renters who had lost 20% of more of their income due to the pandemic (on or after 27 May 2021). The grants, processed by Homes Victoria, are paid as a contribution towards rent. You need to meet several eligibility criteria, including having a rent reduction agreement with the landlord.

To help renters navigate the application steps, we put together a simple eligibility checklist and launched a new web page, including template letters renters can send to the landlord.

To read more, visit our dedicated rent relief grant web page.

Call for better protection for community housing renters

Tenants Victoria has made a detailed submission to the Victorian Government’s Social Housing Regulation Review that aims to identify how to best support the long-term interests of social housing residents and their communities, and position social housing for growth and transformation.

We welcome the Victorian Government’s commitment to investing in social housing, which comprises community housing and government-run public housing. However, the likelihood that the investment will be predominantly, or exclusively, in community housing is of concern under the current regulatory system.

Our service experience is that community housing renters have fewer legal protections, and less stable housing than people who live in public housing.

We hope that the anticipated growth of community housing through government investment is matched by appropriate support and protections for renters. Without these extra protections, a two-tier approach to social housing will be entrenched.

Ways we help

Our dedicated staff have helped renters facing hardship throughout the pandemic. A deep challenge that has emerged through the lens of COVID-19 has been the provision of adequate and helpful information tailored to the needs of diverse communities on a range of pressing issues.

We've been grateful for the expertise and guidance of our team of multilingual community engagement officers, amoung them Ramya Assaad (pictured), who has been working intensively since last year to reach out to share useful renting information with Arabic-speaking Victorians across our community.

If you speak Arabic, you can follow Ramya on social media for useful renting info here and here.

Earthquake damage: renter guide

It was a shock for Victorians when the state was rocked by an earthquake this month.

With VicEmergency warning of the possibility of aftershocks, our team compiled practical advice for renter in the event their home is damaged as a result of the earthquake or aftershocks.

Read our earthquake information here.

Urgent repairs in lockdown

With rapidly changing public health directions, a common question we have been receiving is 'can I get an urgent repair done during lockdown?'.

The answer? Yes.

Any repairs that are critical to health and safety are allowed under public health restrictions. Our website contains a list of what is classified as an urgent repair, which importantly, does not change depending on public health directions.

Catch us on Instagram!

We remain committed to finding new ways to reach renters with vital information in these challenging times, including via social media chats.

Our new Instagram live chats with expert lawyer Georga Wootton and Director of Community Engagement Farah Farouque have continued, this month covering the new rent relief grant, urgent repairs in lockdown and what receiving a ‘notice to vacate’ really means.

Catch up here, and stay tuned for the return of our Facebook renter Q&A early next month.

Lockdown rental stress

In case you missed it, our recent report Pandemic pain identified and mapped the areas where lockdown rental stress is being felt the most.

Of the renters that responded, we also found:

  • 69% reported that they had been financially impacted by lockdown
  • Just over half said lockdown had affected their ability to pay rent
  • The average loss per renter was $108 per day

Read the report, including our proposed solutions: Pandemic pain Victorian Renters in Lockdown.

Consumer insights

Research released this month that was conducted by the Consumer Policy Research Centre between May and December 2020 has ranked the rental sector fourth (out of six) for consumer experience and support during the pandemic, scoring particularly poorly on fair and transparent information, and ranking last for provision of helpful advice and customer service.

Read the report here.

Tenancy news

We'd like to thank our client Kelly Chan (pictured), who spoke to The Age this month about long delays in scheduling a hearing at VCAT regarding a dispute over the return of her bond. Tenants Victoria CEO Jennifer Beveridge said the inability to access a bond can be crippling, particularly when a renter doesn’t have work.

'They need their money back in order to help them find somewhere else to live.’

Contact us

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

Our legal team answers renters’ questions via phone and email. We thank everyone for their patience during this time as we are experiencing very high demand.

Our tenant advice line is available from Monday to Friday, 10am-2pm. Get in touch via our Contact us page – we will respond as quickly as possible.


 

Tenants Victoria
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