Adjournment: Rental Eviction Morotorium
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs. The action I seek is for the minister to reinstate the moratorium on evictions for renters who can’t pay the rent due to COVID-19.
The rent relief scheme announced by the government recently is too narrow, and the eligibility criteria too strict, which will still leave renters at risk of eviction.
The fact that renters have to have had a rent reduction negotiated with their landlord to get a rent relief grant, yet there is no longer a dispute resolution process if a landlord refuses a reduction, shows just how narrow the scheme is.
We have gone from a circuit breaker lockdown to a long-term, month-long lockdown.
The previous scheme also had land tax relief for landlords who did the right thing, as well as a ban on rent rises.
I urge the government to protect renters from eviction.
No one should be evicted from their home during the pandemic.
The Victorian Government understands the enormous impact that COVID-19 is having on Victorian businesses, workers and the rental sector. Although the eviction moratorium ended on 28 March 2021, the commencement of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 (RTAA) introduced rental reforms providing more than 130 measures and protections to renters and rental providers to support the transition out of the eviction moratorium. These include:
- the removal of the ‘no specified reason’ notice to vacate
- a requirement for notices to vacate to be accompanied by documentary evidence
- the introduction of a ‘reasonable and proportionate’ test to be applied by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) when considering applications for possession orders
While rental providers are able to resume issuing notices for rent increases, new protections under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) prevent undue rent increases. Rental providers must give a renter 60 days’ written notice of a proposed rent increase and can only increase the rent once every 12 months. Renters may also apply to the Director, Consumer Affairs Victoria, to review a proposed rent increase if they think the increase is excessive. The rental reforms have also seen the introduction of a ‘five strikes’ rule for notices to vacate for rent arrears.
The Government continues to monitor the rental market to ensure the full impact of the rental reforms under the RTAA are realised.
As you note, on 6 September 2021, the Government announced the establishment of a $34 million COVID-19 Rent Relief Grants program to help renters, who are experiencing rental hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, maintain safe, secure and stable accommodation. Contributions towards rent of up to $1500 will be paid directly to rental providers on behalf of renters. There are no citizenship or permanent residency requirements.
The Government will continue to carefully monitor the impact of current restrictions on renters who are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
The Hon Melissa Horne MP
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation