Minimum legal standards for rented properties should be introduced by the Victorian Government, welfare groups claimed on Monday.
David Imber, manager for policy and public affairs at the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) told Lawyers Weekly that the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 should be amended to ensure properties met certain standards.
"If those standards aren't met by landlords, then a tenant is able to get out of that rental agreement or the tenant is able to go to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and seek redress and essentially seek an order ... that the landlord is required to ensure those standards are met," he said.
"So we're not seeking, in a sense, to create a new series of regulations so that landlords can get sued. What we're seeking to do is to ensure that there are some regulations so that the community standard that everyone expects is actually reflected in the legislation," he said.
These standards would include ensuring that a rented property has adequate heating, running hot and cold water, window coverings and basic energy efficiency.
Imber said that the number of people affected wasn't huge, but that any Victorian who is living in poor-quality accommodation that is legal to rent is one Victorian too many.
"We think it's likely a few per cent [of people] are in a poor-quality standard housing and we'd like those properties to be upgraded ..." He also said that the Residential Tenancies Act should regulate substandard places being rented out, such as garden sheds.
The Victorian Government has said it is taking action to tighten regulations in the rental market and will consider imposing minimum standards as part of its Residential Accommodation Strategy.
- Sarah Sharples