Energy efficient homes to replace rundown estates

More vulnerable Victorians will be able to access social housing with the Victorian Government’s announcement that redevelopment is to begin of a rundown housing estate in West Brunswick. Community housing organisation Women’s Housing Limited will manage the completed redevelopment, which will increase social housing numbers by 45 per cent.

Women’s Housing CEO Judy Line says, ‘We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and developer AV Jennings to bring this project to life, and we are delighted to be part of this exciting housing development.

‘The old rundown walk-ups at Gronn Place will be replaced by new energy efficient homes that will not only be better to live in but be more affordable for our tenants.

‘We are looking forward to taking a leading long-term role in the overall management of the precinct, to ensure that this project further enriches the neighbourhood as well as delivering much needed long-term housing for vulnerable women,’ Judy says.

The 82 vacant units currently on the site will be demolished to make way for 111 new public housing properties, and Women’s Housing will purchase an additional eight homes from the developer, greatly increasing the number available to those eligible for social housing. The redevelopment will also include 79 private homes, which will help fund the project and create more diverse communities.

Public housing tenants who have been provided with alternative accommodation in the lead up to the redevelopment will be given the option to move back to the site once it is complete, with Women’s Housing to be responsible for the management of rental agreements and maintenance. Tenant’s rights will continue to be protected via the Residential Tenancies Act.

As a registered Victorian Housing Association, Women’s Housing Ltd has extensive experience in managing a diverse range of social housing across Melbourne and has an excellent reputation for property and place management.

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA Vic) CEO Lesley Dredge says the redevelopment is welcome with Victoria holding the unenviable record of having the smallest proportion of social housing in Australia. Currently 50,145 households are on Victoria’s social housing waitlist.

The Gronn Place development is part of the Victorian Government’s $185 million Public Housing Renewal Program that plans to develop up to 2,500 public housing dwellings and increase the number of social housing properties by at least 10 per cent across metropolitan and regional sites.

Tales from the Vault: frequency of rent increases

Frequency of Rent Increases under the recent changes to RTA

Hi there housing staffers. It’s Mark Smoljo with your latest episode of Tales from the Tenancy Vault. After nearly two months away I’m back on the shovel. This month I’m looking at something from the very shallow end of the vault, i.e. very recent.

As you are aware, nearly all of the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) arising from last year’s Residential Tenancies Amendment Act will not come into effect until June, 2020. The government has proclaimed a few changes already, such as provisions for leases of more than five years and appointment of the Commissioner for Residential Tenancies. The most recent changes, proclaimed on 19th June are:

  • Rent increases limited to once per year.
  • Providing renting guide (Renting a home: a guide for tenants) electronically.

Click here for Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) advice about these changes.

Despite this information from CAV, we are getting a lot of questions about which tenancies the frequency of rent increases applies to. The CAV website says that ‘Tenancy agreements that commenced before 19 June are not affected by this change’, but what does this mean? I will go through each of your possible scenarios:

Existing fixed term lease created before 19 June 2019

If you have a fixed term lease signed before June 19, the rent can’t be raised until the end of that lease (unless already agreed to in the lease). If they then sign a new fixed term lease at a higher rent, the rent can only be raised again after 12 months. If the lease rolls over into a periodic lease the rent also can only be raised at intervals of 12 months.

Existing periodic tenancies created before June 19, 2019

If tenancies were already periodic or rolled into a periodic tenancy before June 19, 2019, rent can be raised at six monthly intervals in perpetuity.

Tenancies on leases signed after June 19, 2019

Rent can’t be increased until the end of the lease term (unless already agreed to in the lease) and can’t be increased more than once in 12 months for both fixed and periodic tenancies.

Please note that there has been no change for frequency of rent increases for properties managed under the rooming house or caravan park provisions of the RTA.

If you have any questions on this or suggestions for future topics please email Mark Smoljo or you can ring him at the office on 9654 6077 on a Monday or Thursday.

Steve Pomeroy

Masterclass to teach social housing lessons from Canada

CHIA Vic is hosting a masterclass, Approaches to growing social housing – what we can learn from Canada, that will look at creative ways parts of Canada have used to grow their social housing stock, including  leveraging or stretching  limited federal dollars.

It will cover targeted interventions by government, and successful community housing led-projects requiring minimal government funding. The masterclass will also identify a range of funding and financing products that have been helpful in getting social housing developments off the ground.

The masterclass will be presented by Steve Pomeroy, Principal, Focus Consulting Inc and Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Urban Research Education (CURE), Carleton University.

Steve will speculate on how some of the Canadian approaches might be adapted to help expand the community housing sector in Victoria.

Click here for details and to book.

How is the health of your hydronic heating system or gas-fired boiler?

CHIA Vic sponsor Mechfield has some great tips for community housing maintenance staff and managers:

Make sure you service your hydronic heating system or gas-fired boiler
An experienced technician can ensure your boiler is not only reliable but efficient too, saving you money on running costs in the longer term.

Do your bit for the environment
Properly set up, your gas boiler will omit less pollutants than one that is burning badly.

Put a servicing schedule in place
Or better still, let us worry about. Our service department will contact you whenever your boiler is due for maintenance and arrange a convenient time that suits you.

Keep a log book
Just like a car, keep on top of all repairs, parts used and recommendations from our experienced technicians.

Pay attention to it now and then
Keep an eye on vegetation growth around gas flue outlets or ventilation points. A blocked flue or lack of air flow can cause your boiler to burn badly and give off dangerous fumes. (Do not use your plant room as a store room and ensure the doors are always shut)

Check for leaks 
Leaking pipes will only get worse over time and can cause severe damage to the boiler and its surroundings.

Keep an eye on safety valves
Safety valves are there for a reason. If you notice one which is weeping it may be in need of replacement or your boiler may be operating over pressure.

Be aware of your responsibilities
Boilers should be maintained as per the manufacturer’s specifications and internally inspected annually.

Never attempt to maintain a boiler yourself
It’s great to have an understanding of your boiler but it’s best to leave its maintenance in the hands of our fully trained, experienced technicians

Mechfield staff are available to assist 24/7 on 1300 63 24 34.

CHIA Vic launches new strategic plan

CHIA Vic has launched its new strategic plan setting the organisation’s vision, mission and key priorities for the next three years.

The plan, Building the Foundation for Opportunity, was developed using the Theory of Change principles, which involve setting a goal, then working backwards to achieve it. In our case, the goal is to achieve our mission: ‘A thriving Victoria where everyone has the safety, security and dignity of a home – the foundation of opportunity.’

CHIA Vic’s mission is to: Lead and enable a diverse and dynamic community housing sector that is integral to the housing system.

Four key priorities have been identified:

  1. Provide strategic policy leadership and champion a reform agenda.
  2. Harness and strengthen the capacity and capability of the community housing sector to play its integral role in a larger more inclusive housing system.
  3. Build awareness, engagement and trust in the community housing value proposition.
  4. Enhance CHIA Vic’s organisational strength.

You can read more about the objectives and outcomes in the Strategic Plan by downloading the four-page document here.