‘Zero-Day’ Rental Eviction Proposal Will Increase Homelessness
28 February 2017 at 8:20 am
Homelessness in Victoria will be exacerbated if proposed new laws to make it faster and easier to evict tenants from private rentals are passed, the state’s peak homelessness body warned.
Landlords could evict someone with zero notice for damage previously done, but since repaired, or for previous late payment of rent, even when the rent is now up to date, in a host of reforms being considered under a review of the Residential Tenancies Act.
Council to Homeless Persons policy and advocacy officer Damien Patterson said the proposals were a “massive expansion” to a landlord’s ability to evict people with no notice.
“Currently the system allows that there are only zero-notice evictions under really limited circumstances, such as when you are currently causing damage to a property,” Patterson told Pro Bono News.
“What it’s looking to change is that it will no longer require that damage is being done maliciously. It will apply to past damage, and it will apply to any damage that is done recklessly.
“So… people who’ve accidentally but recklessly caused damage in properties and then have rectified it, have fixed the property, where currently that would be sufficient… it looks like maybe people will be able to be evicted with zero notice, so straight out onto the street.”
The Council to Homeless Persons also said the reforms propose an almost unlimited interpretation of anti-social behaviour, which would impact people experiencing family violence, mental health issues or other trauma.
“Getting into private rental and keeping it is already hard enough for many people struggling on low or intermittent incomes, or who’ve experienced family breakdown, job loss or mental illness,” CHP acting CEO Kate Colvin said.
“People need more security, not less, but the changes seem focused on making it easier and quicker to evict people from their homes.”
She said the changes would exacerbate Victoria’s homelessness crisis.
“If these changes come into effect we’ll see an immediate increase in the number of people turning up to homelessness services, and in people sleeping rough on our streets or in cars,” she said.
“It’s simply not possible to secure a new tenancy in a day, and given fierce competition for lower cost rentals, someone on a low income who has been evicted is likely to be unable to secure another rental property for months, if at all.”
Currently in metropolitan Melbourne only eight in 100 rentals are affordable to someone on a low income. For a single parent on Centrelink just two in 100 rentals are affordable.
The Council to Homeless Persons will campaign to ensure the new act improves security of tenure.
“For thousands of Victorian renters, the Residential Tenancies Act provides the last protection against homelessness,” Colvin said.
“We must protect the rights of vulnerable people to keep a roof over their head, particularly in the midst of a housing affordability crisis that has seen so many fall into homelessness.
“We want to see a Residential Tenancies Act which focuses on remedying disputes, not giving greater powers to landlords to make people homeless.”