As a result of unacceptably high COVID-19 case numbers, the Victorian Government has made the decision to extend emergency powers for six months, revealing that physical inspections will not be allowed until at least 26 October 2020.
The continuation of the ban on inspections means that people who desperately need to buy or lease a property will have to make that decision ‘sight unseen’.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) is calling on the state government to allow one-on-one private inspections by appointment so that people can physically see the property before they commit to a considerable investment. Without inspections, buying and leasing cannot proceed, keeping many people out of appropriate housing and pushing many vendors and investors to the brink.
The REIV has criticised the state government's lack of genuine consultation with businesses, with REIV receiving an incorrect invitation to a discussion with over 35 industries. While the REIV had a separate briefing later and provided alternatives and solutions to ensure that people can buy, sell and lease safely, all these suggestions have been ignored.
Prior to the introduction of Stage 4 restrictions, people were able to arrange a private one-on-one inspection under COVID-Safe guidelines. These measures include; only one person at a property with an agent to supervise and assist, disinfecting and cleaning before and after each inspection, wearing face coverings and gloves and collecting contact details for tracing purposes, if required.
The real estate sector has been delivered a ‘double-whammy’ with the extension of the rental moratorium for a further 6-months. With many reduced rental agreements due for re-negotiation this month, the REIV is advising its members to refuse to negotiate rent reductions, forwarding every request directly to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which is already flooded with a backlog of over 4,000 cases.
Comments attributable to REIV CEO Mr Gil King
"Private inspections are far safer than going to the supermarket. No one watches me there and wipes down the Corn Flakes packet that I pick up and then return to the shelf."
"We have seen and continue to see illegal rent-strikes with no consequences. Until balance and common sense is restored we will embark on a moratorium-strike. Let's see how the system copes without our cooperation."
"What we experienced was the classic example of 'tick-box consultation'; that is where you put your case forward but are not really listened to, with government effectively ticking the box that required consultation."
"This demagogue decision to extend the moratorium means that for a whole year, residential rental providers will be dictated to as how much rent they can charge removing their right to make fundamental decisions about their own property."
Comments attributable to REIV President Ms Leah Calnan
"We are talking about shelter and making the biggest financial commitment for your lifetime. The government is turning a blind eye to the significance of a property decision in people's lives."
"The delay in allowing private inspections means that many people will be unable to make the move they so desperately have to make or commit to a property without seeing it first. That is unacceptable."
"It is the government's responsibility to protect renters and yet they have abdicated this responsibility and pushed it onto private citizens and created a system that does not work."
"These decisions compound the financial stress on Victorians and the Victorian economy and do nothing to help those suffering during these difficult times."