VCOSS welcomes the opportunity to provide feedback on Consumer Affairs Victoria’s issues paper on rent, bonds and other charges.
The rental housing market in Victoria is already unaffordable for many people. Average rent in Victoria has increased by 40 per cent since 2007,1 nearly double the general rate of inflation of 21 per cent over the same period.
Private rental is no longer a transitional housing option for many people before buying their own home, and the shortage of social housing means many low-income and vulnerable people and families are increasingly living in private rental properties. There are now more than half a million rental households, 35 per cent more than in 1996.3 Of these, more than 275,000 are low-income Victorian households, more than three times the number of households in social housing.
The way that rental bonds are calculated, contested and apportioned, and the way that rents are collected and increased can all have very real effects on the financial stress and ability to afford housing of low-income households.
This review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 provides an opportunity for the Victorian Government to make meaningful changes to residential law to introduce stronger consumer protections against mistreatment of tenants. The law should protect people, especially those living in low-income or disadvantaged households, from being taken advantage of in rental accommodation, and ensuring they have fair access to obtain and sustain an affordable rental home.