Combat homelessness before it begins with common sense tenancy legislation

In the wake of the newly released homelessness data, Victoria’s peak tenancy body is calling on the State Government to honour their promise to make renting fairer for over 1.5 million renters.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics today released the latest Census data which outlined the state of homelessness in Australia.  According to the release, an estimated more than 116,000 Australians are now homeless.  This is an increase of 4.6% over the last five years, representing 50 homeless persons for every 10,000 people.

Additionally, an estimated 33.4 people in Victoria per 10,000 people are living in marginal housing and are at increased risk of homelessness.

Tenants Victoria CEO, Mark O’Brien maintains that that although homelessness is a complex issue, passing common sense residential tenancy legislation is a logical step toward preventing more Australians from becoming homeless.

“This latest data proves what we have long suspected: Homelessness is a growing problem that needs to be addressed,” he says.

“One of the most efficient ways to combat this problem before it begins is to ensure that renters of all kinds have the security of tenure they need to stay in the market and avoid homelessness.”

O’Brien says that while the State Government rightly acknowledged that the state’s tenancy laws aren’t enough to protect tenants and were very clear about ‘making renting fair’ last October, they have been tight-lipped about their promises to Victorian renters and any other residential tenancy matter since.

“With the state election fast approaching, there is a very real concern that this important legislation will be delayed indefinitely if not acted on beforehand.”

O’Brien calls on the State Government to legislate the announced changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).  He also urges them to pass other key recommendations that would help prevent homelessness – particularly for those affected by family violence – which have yet to be addressed by this Government.

“At the end of the day, a lack of rental security and, in many cases, subsequent homelessness are problems that increasingly affect people from all walks of life.  There is too much emphasis is put on protecting investment over ensuring tenants have safe and secure housing.

“There is no humane reason to ignore the wellbeing of almost one-third of the population simply because they pay a landlord to live in their homes.  We want the announced reforms legislated as a matter of priority and not delayed any further.”


Related links:

Make Renting Fair: First big win for renters?