Tenancy rights

Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — Today I raise several important issues regarding housing affordability and tenants' rights. As younger Australians confront the lack of housing affordability in Melbourne, long-term renting will become more and more the norm. Housing is a human right, and everyone should be able to access safe, affordable, and appropriate housing. Governments need to urgently address housing affordability through measures such as abolishing negative gearing and investing significantly in public housing. However, as renting for longer periods becomes the norm, state governments have a role and a responsibility to strengthen the protections afforded to tenants under Victorian law.

I welcome the government's review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and urge it to ensure that it includes in its review expanding the options for long-term leases, as is the case in many parts of Europe, to give both tenants and landlords more security and certainty. This must also include better options and safeguards for tenants. We must also introduce minimum standards for rental properties, to ensure that nobody is forced to live in dangerous or dysfunctional circumstances or in the high-rise slum conditions reported in the Age this week. We should help renters control their energy bills with minimum energy efficiency standards and incentives to connect to renewable energy.

We must also protect the rights of tenants. I was surprised and concerned to see the recent changes recommended by the Victorian Law Reform Commission regarding photographing of tenants' possessions for advertising purposes. Everyone has a right to privacy in their home, and the harms that may arise from these proposed changes, especially to women and children escaping family violence, are real and serious and could easily be prevented by making small changes to the law, such as making photographing tenants' possessions for advertising an offence, as it is in Queensland.

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