Residential tenancies update – 31 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 31 March 2020 we understand that:

The National Cabinet met on Sunday 29 March 2020 and agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.

The Australia Government announced (Monday 30 March 2020) the $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper Payment, a subsidy to eligible businesses, to help maintain connections with their employees and keep more people in jobs through the coronavirus outbreak. We hope this payment will provide some relief to tenants who have lost their jobs.

New national restrictions for public gatherings (no more than 2 persons) ­and Stage 3 restrictions in Victoria further limits the ability to conduct open house inspections. As these measures are in place to protect the community from the spread of COVID-19, we consider that no open house inspections should occur regardless of whether the home is for sale or rent.

Tenants Victoria is working with homelessness and legal sectors to advocate for protections for tenants. We welcome the ban on evictions, but are disappointed that no details are available on how this will work in practice. We are continuing to make representations to government to seek this information and to inform them about the issues facing tenants. The importance of maintaining a secure home during the COVID-19 crisis cannot be overestimated, and we will ensure that policy makers understand the practical effects of their decisions on Victorian tenants.

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:
Tenants Victoria email advice service
Consumer Affairs Victoria general enquiry form [CAV website]

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