A fair and safe rental market

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As the Victorian regulator of residential tenancies, we work to achieve fair and safe rental housing.

Our priority is to ensure that the residential tenancy framework in Victoria reflects the modern marketplace, delivering the best results for all.

This includes increased collaboration with partners so we can continue to improve our understanding of the needs of a modern market, and make positive changes across the sector.

In the past year we responded to more than 67,800 calls about residential tenancies and more than 71,300 calls to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA). The renting section received over 2 million visits, and continues to be the most viewed on our website.

The number of bonds held in trust by the RTBA increased to 644,229, with a total value of $1.13 billion.

As funding of our advocacy services increased by over $1 million in 2017–18, we provided intensive assistance to over 6,800 vulnerable and disadvantaged Victorians through our Tenancy Advice and Assistance Program, up from 6,186 in 2016–17.

Our comprehensive and evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 is progressing. The full reform package was introduced into Parliament in August 2018.

We continue our work toward introducing long-term tenancy agreements, part of the Victorian Government’s Homes for Victorians housing strategy.

We monitored and supported over 860 licensees through the rooming house licensing scheme, which commenced in April 2017.

Information, advice and service delivery to tenants, landlords and agents

  2015–16 2016–17 2017–18
Information and advice
Website page views - renting section 1,552,271 1,878,001 2,174,527
Calls answered – residential tenancies 69,365 69,472 67,813
Calls answered – RTBA 90,224 77,487 71,378
RentRight app downloads 6,567 7,780 6,917
Compliance
Rooming house inspections (including repeat visits) 1,252 621 738
Rooming houses registered 1,157 1,184 1,256
Transactions
Bonds lodged 236,971 241,489 241,534
Bond repayments 210,963 212,749 219,603
Bonds transferred 79,258 89,375 87,848
Bonds held 593,558 622,298 644,229
Value held $951 million $1.04 billion $1.13 billion
Total transactions – RTBA 447,934 454,238 461,137
Face-to-face or intensive assistance
Funded community services
Tenants assisted under the Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program 5,758 6,186 6,893
Assessments
Repair reports 916 948 1,050
Goods left behind 3,861 3,531 3,223
Rental reports 1,068 1,234 1,373

We receive 4,800 public comments during the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 review. The reforms are focused on increasing security and rights of Victorians who rent.


Since mid-2015, we have led a comprehensive and evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

The review fulfils a commitment in the Victorian Government’s Fairer, Safer Housing plan, and responds to substantial changes in market conditions since this Act was passed almost 20 years ago.

The reform package will promote a modern and dynamic rental market that meets the needs of the Victorian community now and into the future.

The proposed new laws will also address recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence to better protect family violence survivors in rental accommodation.

The Victorian Government has already approved a selection of reforms specifically focused on increasing the security and rights of Victorians who rent.

The full reform package was introduced into Parliament in August 2018.

Read about the Fairer Safer Housing - Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 consultation.

Many Victorians want the certainty and stability provided by a longer-term tenancy agreement.

Families are the most common renters in Victoria and there are many who would benefit from a long-term lease arrangement to be able to lay down roots, including to find a local job, enrol their kids in school and establish themselves in a community.

The Residential Tenancies Amendment (Long-term Tenancy Agreements) Act 2018 received the Royal Assent on 28 August 2018.

A draft standard long-term tenancy agreement, to enable leases of five years or more, is being developed after consultation with key stakeholders. The agreement is expected to be available to landlords and tenants in early 2019.

Long-term leasing agreements are part of the Victorian Government’s Homes for Victorians strategy and its Fairer, Safer Housing plan.

To support this initiative, an online matching service is being developed to connect tenants and landlords who are interested in long-term leases.

  

We commenced a new licensing scheme after the Rooming House Operators Act 2016 came into effect in April 2017. This scheme will foster professionalism and reduce exploitative and undesirable practices in the rooming house sector.

Rooming houses often attract the most vulnerable Victorians, who are unable to obtain any other form of accommodation.

Residents include the long-term homeless, people in need of crisis housing, single people on low incomes and a growing number of older women, international students and recently arrived migrants.

We monitored and supported licensees through the application process with the Business Licensing Authority approving over 860 rooming house operator licences.

Our compliance inspection program ensures operators are licensed and comply with minimum standards. We take a zero tolerance approach to safety and security breaches.

All rooming houses are required to have current electrical and gas safety checks, which are monitored as part of our State Inspection Program.

Read how the licensing scheme works.

The Victorian Government has delivered another 20 affordable homes in Melbourne’s inner west for women and children escaping family violence.

In March 2018, Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz joined Williamstown MP Wade Noonan to officially open the new units, which will provide a safe haven for family violence victims and women aged over 55 who have had trouble finding a home.

Through the project, seven outdated units in Newport were demolished and replaced by nine one-bedroom and 11 two-bedroom homes. Funding was provided through a $5.6 million grant from the Victorian Property Fund (VPF) to Women’s Housing Limited.

The units are close to health and community services, public transport, shops and schools, and have been designed to meet at least a 6-star energy efficiency rating. They have features to reduce energy and water consumption, helping to keep utility bills low.

The VPF invests in affordable accommodation and is used to finance community-led property projects across Victoria.

Find more resources about family violence.

Our advocacy services were remodelled after an extensive review involving consultation with service providers and other stakeholders.

The integrated Tenancy and Consumer Program, launched in July 2017, targets financially disadvantaged Victorians and those experiencing family violence. The new program has four distinct components, providing:

  • support to private tenants who are financially disadvantaged or victims of family violence, through the placebased Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP)
  • expert tenancy legal advice and professional development for tenancy workers assisting private tenants, through the Tenancy Central Service
  • assistance to vulnerable older Victorians living in retirement housing, through the Retirement Housing Assistance and Advocacy Program
  • a consumer service focusing on systemic and emerging consumer issues impacting vulnerable Victorians, through the Consumer Assistance and Advocacy Program.

As funding of our advocacy services increased by more than $1 million in 2017–18, we supported over 7,800 vulnerable and disadvantaged Victorians through our tenancy and consumer advocacy services, up from 6,600 in 2016–17. This includes intensive assistance to over 6,800 tenants through TAAP.

Find out more about the organisations providing services for the program.