Media release - 17/8/2017
Fifty-five* CEOs and community leaders have written to the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews this morning warning that prospective changes to the Residential Tenancies Act will adversely impact 1.5 million Victorians who rent their homes, leading to greater housing insecurity and homelessness.
The open letter states that options under consideration ‘would significantly reduce the safety, stability and privacy of Victorian renters, particularly those who are already socially and economically disadvantaged and/or at greater risk of homelessness’.
Groups at greatest risk include ‘women, single parents, CALD communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and vulnerable Victorians who experienced homelessness, housing insecurity, family violence, disability, mental illness or who have caring responsibilities.’
The letter calls on Premier Andrews to ‘rule out changes that would result in the negative outcomes outlined above’. These changes include reducing the grounds for breaches and evictions to include minor complaints from neighbours and rent payments that are one-day late.
This unprecedented political intervention in the rental area has been spearheaded by the Make Renting Fair Campaign, a community-based campaign that is advocating for ten key policy proposals that would give renters greater safety, security of tenure and privacy in line with other jurisdictions.
Campaign Spokesperson, Mark O’Brien, said that the latest Census data has revealed that Victoria, and Melbourne in particular, are quickly becoming communities of renters rather than owners.
‘With almost 1-in-3 Melburnians renting their homes, the Victorian Government can no longer treat tenants as second-class citizens with second-class rights. Everyone needs the basics – safety, stability and privacy – regardless of whether they rent or own.’
‘The big changes we are seeing to the profile of renters includes more young families, more low-and-middle income workers, and more older Victorians and retirees on fixed incomes. Victorians today are renting for longer periods of time and our laws are woefully inadequate.’
‘Holding down a job, running a business or raising kids requires long-term stability so people can plan for the future and not spend their lives looking over their shoulder.’
“The Victorian Premier has acknowledged our affordable housing crisis and has made a number of positive moves to support people experiencing homelessness. The other piece of that puzzle is strengthening the rental market to make sure people can get into housing and to keep it over the long-term.’
‘We all need more than a roof over our head. We need a place to call home and to build a life around. One and a half million Victorians are asking the Premier to give them a fair go at that.’
The Make Renting Fair Campaign will continue to advocate for fair rental reforms in the lead up to Cabinet consideration of a reform package and the introduction of new laws into parliament. It has already gathered 4,000 signatures in support of its policy platform.
List of signatories:
Make Renting Fair Campaign and
Tenants Union of Victoria
Aboriginal Family Violence & Prevention Legal Service
Australians for Mental Health
Banyule Community Health
Barwon Community Legal Service
Beyond Housing (formerly Rural Housing Network)
Council to Homeless Persons
Mayor Kim Le Cerf
City of Darebin
Mayor Jim Memeti
City of Greater Dandenong
Mayor Amanda Stone
City of Yarra
Consumer Action Law Centre
Council of Single Mothers and their Children Victoria
Domestic Violence Victoria
Eastern Community Legal Centre
Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (via letter of support)
Federation of Community Legal Centres
Fitzroy Legal Service
Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre
Housing for the Aged Action Group
Housing Justice Bendigo
Hume Riverina Community Legal Service
Inner Melbourne Community Legal
Melbourne City Mission
National Association of Community Legal Centres
People with Disability Australia
RMIT University Student Legal Service
Sacred Heart Mission
The Salvation Army
Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service
Victorian Council of Social Service
Victoria Legal Aid
Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council
Victorian Public Tenants Association
West Heidelberg Community Legal Services
Women's Health West
Women's Legal Service Victoria
Youth Affairs Council of Victoria
*Note: Victoria Legal Aid were added to the letter after publication, meaning the number of supporters has been updated to 55.