Leg­is­la­tion passes to given tenants big­ger voice

Benalla Ensign - - News -

Anti-home­less­ness ad­vo­cates, fam­ily vi­o­lence ex­perts, the work­ing classes, the un­der-em­ployed and wel­fare re­cip­i­ents, in­clud­ing sin­gle par­ents, are among those cel­e­brat­ing af­ter the Vic­to­rian Gov­ern­ment passed leg­is­la­tion that recog­nises the rights of tenants.

Be­nalla has many who fall into at least one of those cat­e­gories and most, if not all, will be breath­ing a sigh of re­lief.

An un­der-sup­ply of so­cial hous­ing, un­reg­u­lated for­eign own­er­ship and a host of fi­nan­cial and tax ben­e­fits for Aus­trali­abased in­vestors has made it im­pos­si­ble for most Aus­tralians to own their own homes.

The up­shot of that has been a mas­sive in­crease in the num­ber of renters since the Res­i­den­tial Ten­ancy Act was in­tro­duced in 1997.

Back then rent­ing was still some­thing pri­mar­ily used on a tem­po­rary ba­sis as peo­ple saved for a de­posit.

How­ever, with the num­ber of Aus­tralians locked-out of the hous­ing mar­ket in 2018 a le­gal frame­work to pro­tect those who can­not buy is some­thing many will say is well over­due.

The Coun­cil to Home­less Per­sons (CHP) says the re­forms to the Res­i­den­tial Ten­an­cies Act will pro­tect vul­ner­a­ble tenants from evic­tion into home­less­ness, with the re­moval of no-rea­son no­tices to va­cate, stronger pro­tec­tions for vic­tims of fam­ily vi­o­lence and more support for peo­ple who fall be­hind on rent to avoid evic­tion.

The coun­cil’s act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive offi- cer Kate Colvin said los­ing your home, whether you rented or owned, was trau­matic and desta­bil­is­ing, and un­til this week it had been too easy for land­lords to evict.

‘‘To­day com­mon sense and fair­ness has pre­vailed in our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, and the scales have been tipped to make rent­ing fairer,’’ Ms Colvin said.

‘‘Last night’s vote shows that peo­ple in par­lia­ment have been lis­ten­ing to the con­cerns of Victorians, and the ser­vices that help them, and agree that renters de­serve more pro­tec­tions, not less.

‘‘Get­ting into pri­vate rental and keep­ing it is hard enough for many peo­ple strug­gling on low in­comes, or who’ve ex­pe­ri­enced fam­ily break­down, job loss or men­tal ill­ness.

‘‘The new rental laws will pro­tect, rather than pun­ish, tenants who are al­ready dis­ad­van­taged.’’

The Coun­cil to Home­less Per­sons had pre­vi­ously re­leased data show­ing the num­ber of Victorians evicted from their homes into home­less­ness had more than dou­bled in the past five years.

In the 2016-2017 fi­nan­cial year, 43 751 peo­ple sought as­sis­tance from home­less- ness agen­cies be­cause they had re­cently been evicted from rentals.

The re­view also builds on a change to ten­ancy leg­is­la­tion last year, which makes it eas­ier for tenants in Vic­to­ria to own pets.

Aus­tralian ten­ancy laws had led to the coun­try hav­ing one of the high­est rates of dog and cat eu­thani­sa­tion in the de­vel­oped world.

RSPCA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Liz Walker told The En­sign last Oc­to­ber that the changes had the po­ten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the num­ber of dogs and cats sur­ren­dered to Vic­to­rian shel­ters.

Re­search also shows that al­low­ing tenants to own pets re­duces the amount of peo­ple suf­fer­ing men­tal health is­sues.

Be­nalla Res­i­den­tial Ru­ral prin­ci­pal David MacKin­non said while there were as­pects of the leg­is­la­tion that were pos­i­tive, there were far more that were neg­a­tive from an agency/in­vestor view­point.

‘‘To name a few neg­a­tive as­pects, with­draw­ing the right to give a ten­ant a no­tice to va­cate for no spe­cific rea­son, long-term leases and the big­gest hassle for property own­ers and property man­agers, to give tenants the right to have pets property,’’ Mr MacKin­non said.

‘‘Pets can and do cause a lot of dam­age. Lead­ing on from the pet as­pect is the lim­ited bonds for a property.

‘‘Bonds are too low now com­pared to the in­crease in the cost of re­pairs to prop­er­ties. A thou­sand dol­lars goes nowhere to­day.

‘‘The trou­ble is that Vic­to­rian tax­pay­ers foot the re­pair costs of state hous­ing, which runs into tens of mil­lions each year and the gov­ern­ment wants land­lords to cop the same.

‘‘This gov­ern­ment is do­ing ev­ery­thing it can to re­move any rights for land­lords to in­vest in property and see the value ap­pre­ci­ate.’’

Mr MacKin­non rep­re­sents the in­ter­ests of in­vestors and does make rel­e­vant points about the neg­a­tive ef­fect this leg­is­la­tion will have on them.

How­ever, it is log­i­cal that giv­ing rights to tenants will in-turn take them away from in­vestors, and some will have to sell.

While this is un­for­tu­nate for them, it does seem nec­es­sary in or­der for the property in­vest­ment in­dus­try to con­tinue to grow.

De­spite mak­ing the con­cept of property in­vest­ment un­ap­peal­ing to some, it will al­low the prac­tice to con­tinue long-term.

Which, when com­pared to previous decades when the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple owned property, is still ben­e­fi­cial to in­vestors.

The main dif­fer­ence now, is that ten­ant will also have some rights. in the

The new rental laws will pro­tect, rather than pun­ish, tenants who are al­ready dis­ad­van­taged.

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