Brotherhood welcomes Victorian Government reforms of tenancy laws

09 October 2017

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has welcomed reforms of the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act announced yesterday by the State Government.

The anti-poverty organisation noted current laws were designed in an era when renting was a short term, transitional arrangement before buying a home.  Regulation needed updating to reflect today’s new reality - many households are likely to rent permanently.

The Brotherhood’s everyday experience working with people on low income has reinforced that housing affordability issues particularly impacts on renters.

"Renters find themselves in a relatively weak position in a competitive market, often finding it difficult to exercise the rights they do have. Frequent moves are commonplace – which impacts on children’s schooling, weakens community links and disrupts peoples working arrangements," said Brotherhood senior manager of public policy Nicole Rees.

She said the Brotherhood welcomed the reforms as part of an ongoing process of change. ‘’While these reforms won’t solve all the issues, the changes will hopefully give renters a greater sense of security and confidence.”

Ms Rees said that easier processes for reasonable modifications of homes, which are part of the reforms, were especially welcome. “This is particularly the case for ageing renters seeking to live independently for as long as they can – and for people with disability, who are being enabled by the NDIS to have more choice and control over their housing arrangements,” she said.

The Brotherhood believes priority areas for future reform to ease the burden on renters included addressing energy poverty and disconnections which pose a challenge for low income renters. In an environment of escalating energy costs, introducing simple energy efficiency measures will help reduce energy stress.

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The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse. Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

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