Big promises but no details on residential evictions ban
Tenants Victoria – Tuesday 31 March 2020
Victoria’s specialist tenancy legal service, Tenants Victoria, has welcomed statements by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews promising that Victoria’s two million renters would be safe from eviction due to financial difficulty during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Housing and public health experts have described stable housing and the prevention of homelessness as a critical element in Victorian efforts to contain coronavirus. Every single Victorian who loses the roof over their head at this time is at greater risk of contracting the virus themselves and of passing it on to others in the community. This also applies to people living in caravan parks, rooming houses and other rental accommodation.
Tenants Victoria CEO, Jennifer Beveridge, said she welcomed the initial announcement, but was concerned about the lack of operational detail.
‘Tenants Victoria has been talking about the importance of stable housing as critical to public health since we were on Stage 1 measures. The Victorian Premier has now announced we are at Stage 3 – and there is still confusion instead of clarity on how the Victorian Government intends to keep people safe.’
‘Every day we are hearing stories of renters who are being told to leave their homes. Every day we are hearing stories of renters being reminded that no tolerance will be shown for people who fall behind in the rent, even if they have lost their jobs because of coronavirus. We are even hearing people having their rent increased in the middle of this public health emergency. That’s not good enough in my view. The number of these stories is increasing each day.’
‘There is also a need for intervention to protect renters from rent increases, home visits and a range of other eviction types. These additional steps, beyond the initial announcement, would also keep real estate agents safe and allow them to keep working in safe way through this period.’
‘We understand that some of the details are still being worked out. In that case, I would ask the Premier to stand up at his next press conference and tell the Victorian community unequivocally that as of last Sunday no residential evictions for rent arrears can proceed and that he expects the real estate industry to do the right thing during this crisis.’
‘Tenants Victoria wants to be partners in informing, educating and supporting the Victorian community during the health crisis. We are ready and able to work with the Government and rental sector on a smooth transition that will deliver social and economic stability alongside the public health outcome we are all looking for.’