Residential tenancies update – 25 March 2020

purpose

To provide consistent and timely updates to Victorian tenants on the developing response to COVID-19 as it impacts housing security.

update

While the health, policy and service provision responses are still changing, as at 25 March 2020 we understand that:

The National Cabinet will meet on Friday 27 March 2020 to determine an in-principle approach to residential tenancies. This is likely to consider whether evictions can proceed in the short term, and if so for what reasons. States and Territories will then be responsible for implementing any changes. We do not yet have any expectation on what changes there might be.

The legal and homelessness sectors have been strongly advocating for a temporary freeze on all evictions, together with an income or rental payment subsidy to assist people with meeting rent payments. We have been speaking regularly with government, who are listening but as yet deferring decisions until following the National Cabinet meeting on Friday.

The Victorian government has announced an increase to Housing Establishment Fund (HEF) and Private Rental Assistance Program (PRAP) funds. These programs provide funds to private and social housing tenants to assist in covering the cost of rent. Your local agency distributing these funds can be found by contacting Opening Doors on 1800 825 955. We understand those agencies are speaking with government about resourcing the predicted increase in demand.

VCAT is still operating its residential tenancies list, by telephone hearings for urgent matters. Adjournments will be at the discretion of the VCAT Member, and we encourage you to seek advice before attending your hearing by telephone.

Phone services are temporarily closed: Due to overwhelming demand and the need to restructure staff services, the Tenants Victoria and Consumer Affairs Victoria telephone advice lines are both temporarily closed.

Email services are available:

 

We will continue to update you in response to new information from the government, and with any further service changes.