On 20 August, Premier Andrews announced an extension to the temporary residential tenancy law changes that took effect from 29 March 2020. This means that the new Part 16 of the Residential Tenancies Act, which freezes rent increases and limits the circumstances that tenancies can be ended, will now be in place until 31 December 2020. As the remaining reforms from the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 (RT Amendment Act) are due to come into force on January 1, 2021, this means the emergency reforms are due to transition directly to the permanent reforms. That is, unless this schedule is changed further.
One issue this creates is that it permanently removes the ability of CHOs to transition tenants from the THM program if they no longer meet the criteria for transitional housing. This has not been an issue previously as notices could be given to end tenancies at the end of fixed term agreements or alternatively, 120 day NTVs could be used. It is not currently an issue as transitional housing is being provided on an ongoing basis during the current health crisis. If transitional housing is going to return to being transitional in nature though, a mechanism is needed to end the tenancies as required in line with the purpose of the program and such a mechanism isn’t currently available. To remedy this, CHIA Vic has suggested that set criteria for transitional housing be gazetted by the Director of Housing that would allow the THM program to continue to operate as intended. This is being considered as part of the current THM Review.
Regulations that will be introduced in support of the permanent RTA changes are yet to be finalised and these will cover issues like rental minimum standards, safety-related activities, mandatory disclosures, and modifications that tenants can make to rental properties. CHIA Vic is seeking clarification on when these will be finalised and will be providing details to members shortly.
To assist the sector to operate under the changing laws, CHIA Vic has updated the guidelines and practice notes for the emergency reforms. These are available in the tenancy management section of the CV19 members’ page. For the long-term reforms CHIA Vic will be providing sector briefings and distributing detailed guidance to members later in the year to prepare for the introduction of the amendments.
- Jason Perdriau, CHIA Vic