CHIA Vic still open for business

As you are aware, COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, there are an increasing number of cases in Australia and the situation is rapidly evolving.

CHIA Vic remains open and will continue to support the vital work of community housing organisations as we navigate this crisis.

To continue to operate, while taking precautionary measures to minimise the risk of exposure and spread of the virus, CHIA Vic’s office will be closed until further notice and staff will be working from home.  Staff can be contacted directly on their mobiles, via email or via messages left on the office phone on 9654 6077.  See the contact page for details.

Read more on our Corona virus page.

New RTA/VCAT expert at CHIA Vic

CHIA Vic has taken seriously our Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and VCAT expert Mark Smoljo’s threat to retire in a few months and has employed a replacement in preparation.

Jason Perdriau is taking over all of Mark’s roles relating to the RTA and VCAT and has now taken over the RTA/VCAT Help Line.

Jason is an experienced housing manager in both the community and public housing sectors and is available Monday to Friday via 0422 798 447 or email at Jason.perdriau@chiavic.com.au

If your experienced colleagues have been unable to assist you with a tricky RTA/VCAT situation, you should contact Jason. Although he is a qualified lawyer, Jason will be providing assistance based on experience in tenancy management and VCAT procedures rather than legal advice. If he believes you need legal advice, he will advise you to access the limited legal advice available for CHIA Vic members through the firm Russell Kennedy.

 

 

ROGS data unsurprising

Last year’s ROGS data has been released and, as expected, it shows very little growth in social housing numbers for 2018/19. Victoria continues to invest in social housing at a lower rate than population figures would predict. Despite 25 per cent of Australia’s population (and growing) living in Victoria, the Victorian Government was only responsible for 15 per cent of the national expenditure on housing in 2018/19. However, the Victorian Government’s expenditure on all social housing did increase to $600m, up from $539m in 2017/18.

The number of dwellings in the public housing portfolio was 64,428 in 2018/19, down from 65,064 10 years ago. This decline in stock numbers cannot be explained by stock transfers, as the only transfers that occurred during this period were properties already managed by community housing and therefore were counted in the community housing stock figures. Over the same period, community housing dwellings increased by about 40 per cent, with funding via a combination of government, philanthropic grants and borrowings.

We all know that the throughput in social housing is decreasing with very few private affordable housing rentals available. Public housing assisted 3,990 new households in 2014/15 and that figure plummeted to 2,826 in 2018/19 – a decrease of about 30 per cent. This at a time when there are over 50,000 applications on the Victorian Housing Register.

The decline in throughput was not as great in community housing over the same period. There were 2,115 new tenancies in 2014/15 and 1,953 in 2017/18 – a decrease of about 8 per cent. In part, this would be explained by the sector’s transitional housing and rooming house stock.

Community housing continues to have a higher satisfaction rating than public housing and the latter houses a slightly higher percentage of tenants with the ‘greatest need’; 92 per cent compared to community housing’s 90 per cent.

While the data is interesting, different state and territory policy and practice make inter-sector and jurisdictional comparisons fraught. Also, community housing data is subject to many qualifications and some omissions. Changes in data definitions are amongst the reason comparisons over time are also not straightforward. In Victoria, 96 organisations are invited to fill in the survey while in some jurisdictions only the registered community housing sector is surveyed. There are 38 organisations registered in Victoria with about 20,000 properties under management yet in Victoria 80 of the 96 completed the survey, reporting well short of 20,000 properties!

The Commonwealth wants to improve the quality of the data and is committed to working towards a nationally-consistent data set. In the meantime, this is the best we have. CHIA Vic will continue to liaise with Department of Health and Human Services to improve the Victorian collection.

 

The right time to move to scale…

In its Budget Submission to the State Government, CHIA Vic has called on the Andrews Government to take bold action to grow social and affordable housing.

The submission, which was presented to the government in December, calls on it to:

 Borrow to support the large growth required in social and affordable housing as is the case for any other form of essential infrastructure

 Make a commitment to increase the levels of social housing to the national average of 4.5 per cent of housing stock within 10 years – this would be 60,000 new community and public housing homes with at least 3,000 being designated for Aboriginal people

 Refine funding models to enhance funding fairness for smaller and specialist community housing organisations and to support borrowings

 Provide the land and system architecture to enable delivery at scale including:

  1. Access to government land
  2. Planning and procurement reforms
  3. Implementation of the community housing transition plan
  4. Separate housing policy & procurement from the Department of Health and Human Services.

You can download the submission here.

New to community housing?

The housing sector is complex and it can be overwhelming for those new to community housing to get a grasp of how it works.

To help new housing and tenancy workers hit the ground running, CHIA Vic has developed an Induction Program. Participants complete three compulsory units: Residential Tenancies Act for new housing workers; VCAT hearings; and, Introduction to the community housing industry.

Participants also complete at least four elective units, which cover topics such as Gaining entry to rented premises, managing complex cases, and case notes and record keeping.

For details of the options, and dates, download the flyer or you can register for individual units here.

 

What’s the most important legislation for community housing?

If you work in community housing and are not familiar with the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), you need to enrol in CHIA Vic’s Introduction to the RTA training.

The full-day course gives housing and tenancy workers the basic skills and understanding they require to use the RTA in their day-to-day work. Numbers for the training are capped at 14 to ensure there is time and opportunity for the participation and discussion required to gain confidence with this key piece of legislation.

The session will be held on Friday, January 31, from 9.30am to 4.30pm. 

Bookings are essential.

How familiar are you with the RTA?

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) is the most important legislative framework for the Community Housing Sector. If you are new to the sector or need a refresher, this CHIA Vic course will provide you with the basic skills and understanding you require for your day-to-day work.

This training would be suitable for:

  • New housing workers
  • Experienced housing workers that need to know more about the RTA
  • Experienced housing workers or managers who are new to the community sector
  • Managers who need to incorporate RTA procedures into their organisation’s policies and procedures

The full-day session will be held on Wednesday, December 11 from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Click here for details and to book.

CHIA Vic launches our first online annual report

In a first for CHIA Vic, we have gone digital with our annual report, creating an interactive website, which you can view here.

A downloadable Word version is also available.

 

 

Have your say on rental laws

Victoria’s renting laws are set to change in a big way – with implementation of the full suite of reforms by 1 July 2020.

Over 130 new reforms will affect all types of rental housing. They will increase protections for renters, and ensure rental providers can still effectively manage their properties.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety has released proposed regulations to support the new laws, together with a Regulatory Impact Statement outlining the costs and benefits of the regulations to the community. You can access these on: www.engage.vic.gov.au/rentingregulations

This is our opportunity to provide written feedback on how the new regulations will impact the community housing sector and our clients.

CHIA Vic will be consulting with the sector and preparing a submission, however you may also wish to put in your own submission.

Submissions can be public or anonymous and should be submitted by 5pm on 18 December 2019 on Engage Victoria. The outcomes of the consultation will be published in April 2020.

Key proposed regulations

Prohibited questions

Rental providers and their agents will be prohibited from asking for certain information in rental applications. This includes information on the applicant’s rental bond history.

Minimum standards

Rental providers must ensure that their rental property meets certain minimum standards on or before the move-in date.

The proposed minimum standards include:

  • a toilet in good working order
  • a reasonable supply of hot and cold water
  • electrical safety requirements in line with rooming house standards
  • window coverings to ensure privacy in bedrooms and the main living area
  • a fixed heater in the property’s main living area, which includes an energy efficiency requirement in standalone rented premises.

Standards relating to window coverings and electrical safety will be delayed to give rental providers time to upgrade their properties.

The standard relating to heating will also be phased in over three years to allow both rental providers and the industry to adjust.

All other rental minimum standards apply to rental agreements entered into from 1 July 2020.

Property modifications

Renters will be able to make certain modifications to their homes without the consent of the rental provider. Prior consent is needed for all other modifications.

The renter must restore the property to its original condition (subject to fair wear and tear) at the end of the rental agreement. Residents living in a rooming house, caravan park or residential park will need the operator’s consent for any modifications.

The renter does not have to seek the rental provider’s consent to:

  • replace curtains (while keeping the originals); and
  • install adhesive child safety locks on drawers and doors.

There is also a list of modifications where a renter must seek the rental provider’s consent, and which the rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse.

The proposed list includes:

  • installing picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets on brick walls
  • installing wall anchoring devices on brick walls to secure items of furniture
  • installing a vegetable or herb garden.

More information

Find out more about the reforms or to sign up for email updates on the Changes to renting laws webpage.