News Media Releases Housing and Homelessness

VCOSS applauds new measures to avoid renters’ corona catastrophe.

MEDIA RELEASE

Victoria’s peak social advocacy body is welcoming new measures to keep renters safe in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, with targeted assistance for both renters and landlords.

The Victorian Government has unveiled a critical plan to stabilise the rental market and protect tenants during the coronavirus crisis. The move follows Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement a fortnight ago of a broad ‘evictions ban’ across Australia.

VCOSS CEO Emma King praised the Victorian Government for developing the package.

She said the new measures give renters strong and necessary protections.

“Right now, the safest place for everybody is in their home,” Ms King said.

“This package will mean Victorian renters can follow the government’s ‘stay at home’ message and do their part to ‘flatten the curve’.”

“It will help ensure renters don’t get sick and add to the workload of our already overburdened health system.”

VCOSS is particularly pleased the Victorian Government’s confirmation of:

  • A BAN on landlords evicting tenants in acute financial distress.
  • PROHIBITING rent increases for six months.
  • FINANCIAL assistance for Victorians struggling to pay the rent.
  • GENEROUS incentives for many private landlords to reduce the rent.

“Roughly one in three Victorians rent their home. Their health and security must be paramount.”

Ms King said a lot of detail is still to be worked out by Consumer Affairs Victoria, which has responsibility for residential tenancies in Victoria.

“In the first instance, tenants are still being asked to negotiate with their landlord. Only if they fail to strike a deal will CAV intervene and help strike a binding deal,” Ms King said.

“Exactly how this works is an open question. VCOSS looks forward to working with CAV and Minister Kairouz to help shape this process, and achieve fair outcomes for renters and housing providers.”

“It’s also unclear whether renters who accept a payment deferral will end up saddled with a mountain debt at the end of the pandemic.”

“That would be a tragic and dangerous outcome,” Ms King said.


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