The Victorian Greens have welcomed news that renters will soon be able to access rent relief grants again, but say that without a ban on evictions and a freeze on rent increases, the grants will only go so far.
The Greens also worry that the savings threshold needed to make a renter eligible for the grant (no more than $2,000) is too low, potentially cutting off thousands of Victorians in desperate need of the financial support.
That’s why tomorrow the Greens will be introducing a bill to Parliament that would:
- Reinstate a ban on evictions, so no renter has to worry about losing their home
- Put a freeze on rent increases, so no renter has to worry about amassing insurmountable debt
- Create a dispute resolution process for tenants and landlords, to make it easier for renters to negotiate when they’ve fallen on hard financial times
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said the party had heard from countless renters since the government’s broader renter protections expired in March, who had lost work as a result of COVID and were facing insecure housing.
She said the government’s decision to reinstate rent relief grants was a step in the right direction, but without a higher savings threshold, as well as a ban on evictions and a freeze on rent increases, many renters would still find themselves in dire straits.
The Greens’ Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Emergency Protections) Amendment Act 2021 would establish a multi-pronged set of protections to ensure no renter is put at risk of losing their home because of the pandemic.
Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“No Victorian should be at risk of losing their home because of this pandemic.
“We know these restrictions are important to keep us safe, but we also know that many renters have lost work and income as a result of them.
“That’s why the government must do what it can to make sure no renter has the prospect of eviction or mounting debts looming over their head.
“Our bill would make sure evictions are banned during the pandemic, and that landlords aren’t able to increase the rent for those facing hard financial times. It would also make it easier for renters to negotiate rent reductions with their landlords.
“Rent relief grants are important, but unless they work alongside other protections they’ll only go so far."