Last week the Victorian Government promised that changes to rental laws would allow renters affected by COVID-19 to more easily move out of their rental properties.
The draft laws have been released today. Instead of making things better, these laws will put unprecedented limits on the ability of tenants to move out of rental properties, and substantially restrict the freedom of Victorians to choose where they live.
Specifically, renters who have periodic leases (also known as “month-by-month” leases) are usually able to give 28 days’ notice and then move out. Under these proposed laws, renters on periodic leases will be unable to leave unless they get an order from VCAT. To do so, they will need to show that they would experience “severe hardship” if they had to stay. For example, renters who are living in properties where the landlord routinely fails to do repairs will be unable to exercise their choice to leave. Renters who want to move in with lonely elderly family members in light of the lockdown laws will be unlikely to satisfy the very high bar of showing "severe hardship" if they are forced to stay.
On the flipside, the proposed laws involve the same complicated process for renters who want to end a fixed-term lease. Renters will have to apply to VCAT and show that they will have “severe hardship” if they want to leave early. The proposed laws do not represent any improvement for renters.
The changes to the rules for people who are on periodic leases are drastic and unexpected change. Liberty Victoria is concerned that it will place substantial restrictions on renters’ rights to choose where they live. Importantly, there is no evidence that these substantial restrictions are necessary to protect public health.
Liberty Victoria calls upon the Andrews Government to reconsider these proposed reforms.
For enquiries contact Liberty Victoria at
email@example.com or phone 03 9670 6422