Response from Director, Consumer Affairs Victoria to Statement of expectations 2014-16 - reducing red tape

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Hon Heidi Victoria MP
Minister for Consumer Affairs
Level 6, 2 Kavanagh Street
Southbank Victoria 3006

Dear Minister

Statement of Expectations Stage 2

On 16 June 2014 you provided your Statement of Expectations for Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) and the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) for 2014-15 and 2015-16 (please take a reference to CAV in this letter as including the BLA). The Statement communicated your expectations for CAV to contribute to the Government’s program to reduce red tape affecting businesses, not-for-profit organisations, government service providers and households by promoting greater efficiency and effectiveness in the administration and enforcement of regulation.

CAV will initiate appropriate projects to achieve the outcomes identified in your statement. Specific responses to your initiatives are detailed below.

Increased accountability and transparency



Inform business and consumers about CAV's regulatory approach to risk, enforcement and regulatory action.

CAV will produce a public statement on CAV’s regulatory approach, including how CAV manages risk and its approach to compliance and enforcement.

This will build on the already existing CAV compliance policy and conciliation policy and will provide a mechanism to inform the community on how CAV approaches regulatory decisions.

Improved timeliness



Provide information on service standards for the processing of all applications

CAV does provide some advice on the website on the time taken for regulatory actions. CAV will undertake a systematic review of regulatory processes and ensure that service standards are published for all relevant regulatory processes.

Reduce by 50% the time required for tenants and landlords to request a residential tenancy inspection

Currently members of the public applying for a residential tenancy assessment complete a paper form and mail, fax, or email it to CAV where it is entered in CAV’s IT system.

CAV will initiate a project to introduce online applications for residential tenancy inspections, which will reduce the time required for the public to complete the applications, and will also enter information into the IT system, and thus reduce the time required to process applications. Both of these changes will allow the time for assessments to be reduced by 50%.

Make reporting for landlords, agents and tenants easier and recorded permanently for the duration of a lease

Currently landlords and their agents must complete a paper condition report and provide two copies to the tenant at the commencement of a tenancy. The paper report must be filled out by hand and is constrained in its format by its nature as a paper form.

An online/mobile condition report would allow greater flexibility, the use of automatic questions and answers, and the usage of photos as a major form of recording property condition information. It would allow for easier transfer of the report to the tenant and allow for a permanent record be stored until the end of the tenancy.

This should make the condition report easier and/or better and improve the effectiveness of the tenancy report process.

CAV will initiate a project to work with stakeholders to develop and deploy an online/mobile condition report, and review the relevant provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to determine whether amendments are necessary to support the project.

Make it simpler for private landlords to submit residential tenancy bonds to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority

Currently the RTBA allows Electronic Funds transfer (EFT) transactions for agents submitting bonds, however the functionality is not currently available to private landlords.

This proposal is possible following completion of planned enhancements to the RTBA Online transactional website, expected to be completed in early 2015.

A business case to identify enhancements required to implement an EFT facility will be developed when the current project is completed with proposed implementation in 2015-16.

Reduce by 20% the time required by Incorporated Associations and Fundraisers to submit and process information

Currently Incorporated Associations and Fundraisers, must complete paper forms and then mail, fax or email them to CAV.

CAV will develop an online system that will allow these businesses and organisations to lodge all required information online and check information online, simplifying the process for them to meet their regulatory requirements. It is expected that this will reduce the time to submit and process forms by 20%.

CAV has initiated a project to develop and implement this system.

Clearer and more consistent regulation



Reduce the regulatory burden on motor car traders and second-hand dealers by aiming to have at least 40% renewing their licences online by the end of 2014-15

Currently motor car traders and second-hand dealers have the option of completing a paper based annual return or using online Smart Forms to complete their application. CAV will encourage the use of online returns to reach at least 40% renewing their licences online by the end of 2014-15.

Reduce by 20% the regulatory burden on landlords and agents by setting out online the rights and duties of a landlord and tenant

Currently landlords and their agents are required to provide tenants a statement of rights and responsibilities at the commencement of the tenancy. This is currently in the form of a paper publication known colloquially as The Red Book.

This imposes cost on landlord in acquiring, storing and distributing the document.

CAV will initiate a project to convert the document to a online document, and review the relevant provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to determine whether amendments are necessary to support the project

By producing an online version of The Red Book, the burden on landlords and agents should be reduced by 20%.

Reduce the regulatory burden on sellers of property, estate agents, conveyancers and lawyers by implementing reforms to section 32 statements in the Sale of Land Act

CAV will work with stakeholders to roll out these reforms to the real estate industry. Initial estimates are that these changes with produce a $6.0m reduction in the regulatory burden imposed on business.

Better compliance assistance and advice



Increase self-help tools for businesses to improve rates of compliance

CAV will introduce five self-help compliance checklists to assist businesses to ensure they are complying with regulatory requirements.

In implementing these measures, CAV will consult with relevant stakeholders in industry, the community and other government agencies. CAV will report its progress against your targets in our Annual Report.

CAV is proud of our record to date in refocusing on service delivery to better serve consumers and businesses.

In line with the Victorian Government’s commitment to an ongoing reduction in the administrative burden of regulation, CAV will continue to identify and implement burden reduction initiatives.

Yours sincerely

Dr Claire Noone
Consumer Affairs Victoria