Sign the petition | Facebook | VIC | NSW

First big win for renters in 20 years

On Sunday, 8 October, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced (with much fanfare) a 14 point plan for rental reform that is a big step towards our goal of ‘making renting fair’ and a big win for the 1.5 million Victorians who rent their home.

While we welcome the promised reforms as a great first step, it still leaves major parts of the rental reform agenda unfinished.

As notable as some of the policy announcements are, the thing that has really grabbed our attention is the language the Victorian Government is now using.  They have adopted our campaign name as their headline message and are now talking openly about giving renters a fair go in the housing market.  

This is a rare thing in the world of policy campaigning and a sign of just how much impact the organisations, local councils and individual supporters of the Make Renting Fair campaign have had in less than a year.

During the past year, Make Renting Fair has grown into a coalition of over 60 organisations and almost 4,000 individual supporters across the state.  This number is even greater when you count the supporters of our sister campaign - One Million Homes - who are leading the charge on the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards.

On the public face of the campaign, our coalition has generated hundreds articles in local and statewide outlets to spread the word about what needs to be done in order to make renting safe, stable and private for Victorian renters.  On social media, renters from across the state and country united together to speak up for renters’ rights, voicing their support through comments and discussion via Facebook and Twitter, sharing the campaign’s messaging thousands of times and calling on their networks to sign the petition and email their local MPs.  The petition has just shy of 4,000 signatures and local MPs from across the state have received thousands of emails.

While the public rallied their support behind the campaign platform, we met with almost a third of the Labor party room, half a dozen ministers and the majority of metropolitan backbenchers during this time.  We have briefed crossbench MPs and engaged with the Opposition.

However, the outcome is what matters and we can already say we have collectively achieved a positive one.

The campaign for tenancy reform has been fought ever since the RTA was introduced twenty years ago.

Thousands of individuals and hundreds of organisations have been part of this work during this time, and the credit needs to be shared amongst them all.  This is an example of what can be achieved when the community comes together and fights the good fight.

As of now, the Victorian Government has promised the following reforms:

Safety

 

Stability/security of tenure

 

Privacy and fair use provisions

 

Rental market fairness

 

There is also draft legislation in the parliament around long-term leases, which we support in principle but want to ensure that the detail of any longer-term agreements doesn’t undermine important tenants’ rights.  You can read more about this here.

These are all good announcements and we consider them to be steps towards the goal of fair rental laws.  It is true that we don’t yet have the details of how they will operate and when they will be introduced, but we have no reason to doubt the Government’s commitment on these items.

However, there are still some important parts of the reform agenda which have not been addressed.  These include:

Safety

  • Legislate minimum health, safety and efficiency standards
  • Create incentives for faster repairs
  • Introduce the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s tenancy recommendations

 

Stability/security of tenure

  • Rule out quicker and easier evictions
  • Strengthen protections for vulnerable tenants
  • Reject onerous and unfair lease terms

 

Privacy and fair use provisions

  • Reject restrictions on visits by family and guests
  • Stop unwanted visits and photography

 

Rental market fairness

  • Strengthen regulation and consumer rights around tenancy databases

 

These are also important reforms, and our view is that renting will not be fair in Victoria until the Victorian Government finishes the reform job it has started.

Our campaign will continue to work constructively to support the first round of announcements and maintain pressure for the outstanding items.

We have had great success so far, and we now have a Victorian Government which is openly talking about fairness for renters and seems fully committed to fair and progressive reform of the Residential Tenancies Act.