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.

 

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.