Engage with and support the sector to identify and implement leading practice and understand industry reforms and developments

CHIA Vic established a coronavirus sector group to highlight key issues and assist in the development of strategies and resources, with a password-protected members’ section of the CHIA Vic website developed to house a COVID-19 documents library. Resources developed for the sector and made available via this library included:

  • Coronavirus Checklist for Community Housing Organisations
  • Sample maintenance procedures
  • Sample letters to contractors
  • Risk Mitigation Actions for Rooming Houses
  • Rooming House Operations During Coronavirus Guidelines
  • Guidelines for Disclosing Private Information when Managing Coronavirus Risks
  • Tenancy Services Information During Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Useful Paragraphs for Rent Arrears Letters During Coronavirus Pandemic
  • Sample Hardship Policy and Application Form
  • Overview of Coronavirus RTA Changes and Practice Notes.

Throughout the pandemic, CHIA Vic has worked closely with DHHS to have input and seek clarity on the latest developments and on the sector’s outstanding issues with developments fed back to members via meetings held over Zoom and other communication channels.

RTA Reforms

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) is the most significant piece of legislation governing tenancy management. In 2019/20, CHIA Vic was involved in discussions with Consumer Affairs Victoria on the optimum way to communicate changes to the Act, most of which were to come into force on July 1, 2020, as a result of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018.

CHIA Vic kept members aware of the impending changes, providing training and email updates. However, COVID-19 led to a revised timetable for the changes, and the introduction of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 in April. This act gave effect to the National Cabinet commitment to a temporary eviction moratorium and made further broad ranging changes to tenancy law in response to the pandemic.

The changes included a temporary ban on rent increases and on issuing notices to vacate, as well as limiting the grounds a tenancy can be ended and pushing back the reforms to the RTA that had been planned for implementation from 1 July 2020.

CHIA Vic kept members abreast of these changes and their implications. This included holding a briefing session to help the sector understand and adapt to these changes, followed by Q&A sessions in sector groups. To help members adjust their practice, we also developed a detailed guidance document with practice notes outlining the changes needed in all the relevant areas of tenancy management.

CHIA Vic continues to support members to operate under these reforms while advocating for changes to tenancy law to reflect the community housing operating model.

Best practice rent management

During the year, CHIA Vic worked with members to establish leading practice in rent management. The project began with a member forum to enable organisations to assess their rent practices against industry standards and identify issues that require further investigation or interpretation.

CHIA Vic’s RTA and VCAT expert Mark Smoljo led the project, which resulted in the creation of Rent Setting Policy templates and other resources for member organisations to use as a guide when producing their own rent setting policies.

CHIA Vic makes a splash in Darwin

CHIA Vic had a strong presence at the 2019 AHURI conference in Darwin, with Projects and Policy Officer Jess Pomeroy giving two presentations; one on our Innovative Energy Efficiency Financing Models project and the other for our Social Outcomes Framework.

Our member organisations are continuing to look at ways they can adopt the framework, and avenues for aggregating the data on tenant outcomes. Several organisations have undertaking social outcomes surveys as part of their tenant surveys this year.

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Energy efficiency

CHIA Vic has been finalising case studies of solar and energy efficiency upgrades funded by the Victorian Property Fund. The case studies outline the challenges and learnings from this $2.7M program of solar and other upgrades to community housing with the aim of assisting other organisations who are keen to introduce energy efficiencies into their properties.

CHIA Vic Residential Tenancies Act and VCAT Help Line

This valued CHIA Vic service is always well-utilised by members but the emergency COVID provisions of the RTA saw the number of calls to the help line soar from 195 in 2018/19 to 335 this financial year. The most common issues related to the impact of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act and further complications to residential tenancy law due to the introduction and then extension of temporary changes to the RTA, adding to the usual queries relating to simple procedural matters and more complex legal disputes. Where necessary members were referred for free or discounted legal advice provided by the legal firm Russell Kennedy.

The issues raised by members inform the content of CHIA Vic’s training courses and contribute to our feedback via the VCAT Residential Tenancies User’s Group.

Changing of the guard

In February 2020, after eight years of helping members with their VCAT and RTA questions, Mark Smoljo passed on management of the help line to our new Tenancy & Property guru, Jason Perdriau.

Mark Smoljo
Mark Smoljo

Jason Perdriau
Jason Perdriau

Thanks to our Supporters

As a not-for-profit peak body, CHIA Vic relies on our strong membership base and the financial support of our major sponsors to be able to provide the vital services, support, training, advocacy and project work required by our sector. We would like to thank the following organisations for their assistance in 2019/20.

Our 2019/20 Sponsors