The issue of affordability, security and appropriateness of housing is a significant issue for older people on fixed lower incomes.
The review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) has been a huge undertaking by the Victorian Government. Ahead of the final report, the government has already announced the introduction of five-year leases. As many housing groups have commented, whilst positive, this alone will not fix the insecure and skyrocketing costs of rental accommodation. COTA Victoria wants to see stronger consumer protections against unpredictable rent increases and greater security of tenure.
We know of older people distressed by landlords opposing any modifications to properties. Amending laws to allow modifications to properties will mean older people can stay in their home where they are connected to their community.
The RTA review covers a significant range of issues. For the first time specific protections to support family violence and elder abuse survivors stay in their rental properties or terminate a tenancy is being considered. The review is also looking at the right of tenants to have pets in their home.
Resolving disputes about repairs and maintenance through a bond paid by landlords is a positive proposal under consideration. The introduction of a Housing Ombudsman would also improve how disputes are mediated with enforceable outcomes. Eviction should be a last resort. With the increasing numbers of older people facing housing stress and homelessness we are concerned with the option that repeated late payment could be grounds for tenancy termination. The requirement that properties meet minimum standards for health, safety, efficiency and amenity is also long overdue.
You can help us to Make Renting Fair for older Victorians by signing the petition and sharing it using the #makerentingfair hashtag.
You can also like the campaign on Facebook
Read the Victorian Government response on Making Renting Simpler For Our Newest Victorians media release.