The State Government has passed the biggest rental reform package Victoria has seen in two decades. The new laws will protect the privacy, rights and safety of all tenants in Victoria.
VincentCare CEO John Blewonski welcomed the news and congratulated the sector for the strong campaigning.
“The reform will provide some relief for VincentCare clients who find it increasingly difficult to compete in the private rental market.”
The news is a welcome relief to VincentCare staff including Housing Options Worker, Jess Boyd.
“Reform has been needed for a long time, and tenants are entitled to live in a property that meets basic living standards; functioning stoves, the necessary heating, deadlocks and smoke alarms,” Jess said.
“They should be able to make a property their home and to keep pets if they want to, provided the property is suitable for animals.”
Through her work, Jess has found many rental properties are not set up for people to live safely and comfortably.
“They have gaps around doors and windows, holes in the floor and walls, and inadequate insulation,” Jess said.
This forces tenants to use what are often inefficient heaters and cooling systems more often, increasing their energy bills. For many VincentCare clients these added costs force them further below the poverty line.
“We have one women living in a property and she can’t keep fresh food at the house due to a rat infestation, which the landlord refuses to address. These new laws will mean situations like that won’t be allowed to happen.”
Recommendations from the royal commission into family violence are now included.
Under the old legislation, the onus is on the victim of family violence to prove they are at ‘unforeseen’ risk.
Jess said the new laws enable family violence survivors to break a lease without incurring penalties. “This is essential for someone who needs to protect their personal safety,” Jess said. “Writing this into law empowers women to leave abusive and toxic relationships.”
Rental bidding is banned, rent increases are limited to once a year and bond will be capped at four weeks rent.
These regulations are incredibly important for VincentCare clients who once faced these financial imposts.
“It’s common for us to see people who have applied for 30-plus properties and they’ve not been successful. It’s even harder for people who come from a non-English speaking background or receive a limited income.
“My hope is that eliminating rental bidding and monitoring rent increases will help low-income earners to access the rental market. Access to affordable housing will help to reduce stress on an already over-worked public housing system – benefitting all of society.” - Jess Boyd