The housing crisis is getting worse and almost everyone is affected – from those living in or waiting for public housing to working renters and people on average wages trying to buy a home of their own. Developers are building apartments for investors that will stay empty for years, the government is throwing people out of public housing, selling public land to private speculators and letting big developers “land bank” to drive up prices. The problem is not a housing shortage: in Victoria, 11.8 percent of homes are vacant while more than 24,000 people are homeless. But the crisis is made worse by our declining and deteriorating public housing stock – under Daniel Andrews, the public housing waiting list has grown by more than 50 percent. Andrews’ “Big Housing Build” will actually result in a net loss of public housing.
Victorian Socialists stand for renters, for households struggling to pay off mortgages and for people suffering homelessness and housing insecurity. Secure, quality housing should be a right, not a money-making opportunity for landlords, speculators and developers.
What we think
- Access to secure, quality housing is a fundamental social right.
- Homelessness is a result of a competitive, market driven society, organised around private ownership of residential property.
- Housing should not be a means by which some people can accrue a profit at the expense of others.
- New housing must be designed and built to be environmentally sustainable and existing dwellings must be retrofitted to make them sustainable.
- Urban planning must be democratic and planning decisions guided by social equity and ecological sustainability.
- All new urban developments must be integrated with social and community infrastructure, including public transport, education, health services, parks, playgrounds, other open spaces, and recreational and cultural facilities.
What we'll fight for
- Impose a five-year freeze on rent increases and cap subsequent increases to CPI.
- Strengthen laws to protect tenants by:
- Banning all “no reason” evictions, including at the end of a fixed-term lease.
- Introducing minimum 12-month notice periods for all change of use evictions (e.g. renovation, sale, family member moving in) and doubling the notice period for all others.
- Requiring VCAT to refuse to issue an eviction order when the tenant has been unable to secure new housing.
- Making landlords liable for all ordinary end-of-lease cleaning and maintenance costs.
- Introducing financial penalties for landlords and agents who bring inflated and spurious VCAT claims against tenants.
- Tripling fees for landlords to apply to VCAT and removing all fees for tenant applications.
- Permitting tenants to withhold rent payments when VCAT has ordered repairs and these have not occurred.
- Limiting the personal and financial information that landlords and real estate agents can ask tenants to provide.
- Creating a public, searchable register with details of repair, breach and compensation orders made against landlords.
- Create Rental Inspectorate Victoria, which will be empowered to:
- Investigate complaints against landlords and agents.
- Enforce minimum standards (safety, quality and thermal comfort), including by conducting spot inspections of advertised rental properties and issuing enforceable improvement notices to landlords.
- Inspect rooming houses and set rooming house rents.
- Increase funding for VCAT to facilitate rapid resolution of disputes with landlords and ban landlords from sitting as VCAT members.
- Increase funding to tenancy legal support service to guarantee that low- and moderate-income tenants have legal representation at VCAT, re-introduce funding for drop-in tenancy advice services and expand the capacity of Tenants Victoria phone helpline in accordance with demand.
- Mandate sustainability and thermal quality retrofitting of rental properties:
- Underfloor and roof insulation by 2025.
- Solar panels by 2027.
- Abolish stamp duty, except on properties valued within the top 20 percent of the market.
- Establish a State Bank of Victoria that will offer to take over existing mortgages owing on residential properties at below market rates.
- Establish a Victorian Real Estate Exchange that will offer to advertise and manage the sale of houses, for a fixed fee, to undercut private real estate agents.
Crack Down on Property Speculators and Hoarders
- Double the Vacant Residential Land Tax owing on all properties that remain vacant for more than six months of the year.
- Audit existing properties that are vacant; bring into public ownership those that have been vacant for more than two years without extenuating circumstances.
- Apply a Luxury Property Tax on the 1 percent of most valuable properties, at 5 percent of sale price per year.
- Abolish all tax concessions for property investors and landlords.
- Tax rental income on first investment property at ordinary rates. If an individual owns more than one rental property, income received on all but the first investment property is to be taxed at the highest marginal rate.
- Immediately ban property hoarding, defined as an individual or for-profit business owning more than ten properties. Real estate in excess of ten residential properties owned by property hoarders should be seized and converted into public housing.
- Over time, end for-profit housing by:
- Restricting home ownership to individuals, not-for-profit community housing providers and governments.
- Capping at two the number of homes that any individual can own.
- Improve access to secure high-quality housing.
- Adopt a “housing first” policy that offers unconditional access to public housing for all homeless Victorians.
- Provide long-term secure funding to homelessness support and advocacy organisations.
- Ban the transfer of public housing ownership or management to community housing organisations.
- Ensure that tenants in former public housing now managed by community housing organisations pay the same rent and receive the same protections as public tenants. If community housing organisations fail to achieve this within six months, all the dwellings they manage will revert to public housing.
- End punitive tenancy management practices.
- Ban the sale and privatisation of public housing and land to private property developers under the guise of “renewal” programs.
- Undertake a housing quality audit of all public housing and commence repairs and remediation works, including retrofitting for energy efficiency, sustainability and thermal comfort.
- Properly fund ongoing responsive and programmed maintenance to all public housing to prevent further deterioration of stock, while meeting all residents’ temporary accommodation expenses where necessary.
- Spot purchase properties for conversion into public housing to immediately address specific housing wait and transfer list needs.
- Audit publicly owned land and unused buildings for conversion into public housing.
- Empower and fund tenants’ organisations to collectively manage public housing common areas.
- Create a Victorian Public Housing Authority, chartered to provide high-quality public housing for all Victorians on a not-for-profit basis that will:
- Include a publicly owned construction company across the entire housing supply chain, creating 20,000 jobs at above Award conditions prioritising union members.
- Be governed by a board consisting of one-third Victorian government appointees, one-third workers’ representatives and one-third tenants’ representatives.
- Prioritise new housing construction near public infrastructure in high-demand suburbs.
- Construct at least 15,000 new public housing units per year for at least the next 10 years.
- Construct 15,000 shared-ownership residences per year that will:
- Be available to first-home buyers for no more than $300,000, backed by a 2 percent interest loan.
- Guarantee full rights associated with home ownership.
- Refund to owners their full share up to $300,000 upon transfer of ownership plus a share of interest accrued.
- Impose an Inclusionary Zoning Requirement mandating low-cost and public housing set at least 20 percent for all developments.
- Strengthen local councils’ power to impose and enforce regulations ensuring sustainability and social equity.
- Strengthen planning regulations to mandate that all new dwellings comply with minimum standards that enrich the lives of occupants, including minimum outdoor space, canopy tree coverage, minimum internal floor space, sound proofing, optimal solar and street orientation, light access, soundproofing, thermal comfort and energy efficiency.
- Encourage the maintenance, retrofitting and restoration of existing good quality housing stock.