On Wednesday, Premier Daniel Andrews announced the declaration, which is about 40 pages long, discloses the government’s plans to build 800,000 new houses over the next decade.
These goals include reducing the amount of time it takes to get building clearance, renovating the state’s aging social housing towers, and freeing up space in established suburbs.
It also includes a number of measures to protect renter rights and an Australian-first fee on short-stay rentals like Airbnb, which opens the door for other states to perhaps follow suit.
However, opinions are divided on whether or not the alterations will be sufficient to alleviate the housing issue. This is what we currently know.
When it is implemented in 2025, the housing statement will impose a 7.5% charge on short-stay rental sites like Airbnb and Stayz. This levy is anticipated to raise approximately $70 million yearly to fund social and affordable housing. It is one of the most important parts of the housing statement.
In spite of Andrews’ description of the fee as “modest,” the business community has expressed substantial opposition to the measure.
The chief executive of the Victoria Tourism Industry Council, Felicia Mariani, stated that the levy would be “disastrous” and a “significant impost” on vacationers and business travelers.
Michael Crosby, who is in charge of public policy for Airbnb in Australia and New Zealand, had initially expressed enthusiasm for the imposition of a tax but then stated that the rate of 7.5% was “too high” and would provide hotels with a “free kick.”
The levy was referred to as “a Band-Aid solution” by Michael Buxton, a professor of planning at RMIT University.
“It is just going to be passed on to the customers. According to him, this will not result in the release of 40,000 residences that have been removed from the market for medium- and long-term rentals.
Buxton supported a proposal by the Greens to limit Airbnb stays to a maximum of ninety days, claiming that a similar restriction has been found to be successful in other communities.
The head of the Victorian Green Party, Samantha Ratnam, stated that the government had “caved in to Airbnb by failing” to establish a quota on the number of short-term rentals.
A significant overhaul of Melbourne’s 44 public housing buildings in high-rises is an additional important policy objective. Andrews referred to it as the nation’s most ambitious urban revitalization project in the history of the country.
The “out of date” and “derelict” towers will progressively be replaced with new apartments that are efficient in terms of energy use, and the total quantity of social housing will increase by 10% across all of the sites.
Concerns have been voiced, however, over the question of whether or not they will continue to be owned and managed by the public, as well as the number of private flats that will be built on the property.
In order for this statement to be as positive in practice as it appears to be on the surface, the chief executive of the Victorian Public Tenants Association, Katelyn Butterss, encouraged the government to “be transparent as to who will ultimately be the manager of these properties.”
Ratnam referred to the move as “privatisation by stealth” and the “beginning of the end of public housing in Victoria,” whereas Louisa Bassini from Inner Melbourne Community Legal encouraged the government to rescind its decision. Ratnam’s comments were made after the move was announced.
According to her, the legal center has already received feedback from tenants who described themselves as “confused, stressed, and unsure of what their future holds.”
“This announcement has sent shockwaves through our community today,” Bassini said earlier.
A provision that is dedicated to enhancing rights for tenants is included in the bill that will alter the housing market. It contains a movable bond plan as well as making it an offense to bid on rentals, both of which are measures that have already been declared in New South Wales.
Additionally, the minimum period of time for notices to leave will be increased from sixty to ninety days in Victoria.
In addition, landlords won’t be able to raise rent for new renters during the first year after serving eviction notices on the tenants who were living there before. In addition, a new organization dedicated to resolving disputes between landlords and tenants will soon be established. This agency will be responsible for handling such conflicts.
The executive director of Better Renting, Joel Dignam, referred to the alterations as “modest” but a “step in the right direction” – assuming that they are implemented, of course.
More laws on paper that don’t actually make a difference in practice aren’t going to get us anywhere. However, some of these modifications do reflect an awareness that sanctions do have a role to play in bringing about the widespread adoption of compliance.
Dignam advised the government to create and maintain a register of rental homes, as well as adopt a “secret shopper” method to eliminate rental bidding. Both of these ideas are aimed at reducing the amount of money that is spent on rental bidding.
“There’s nothing stopping the government from having people who got out to rental inspections and applied for properties and offered rents and see what happened,” he added. “There’s nothing stopping the government from having people who got out to rental inspections.”
Luke Hilakari, the secretary of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, stated that the amendments “will level the playing field between renters and landlords.”
However, the opposition in Victoria stated that the proposal “fails to address the fundamental causes” of the housing problem and that it will not bring many young people any closer to realizing their dream of home ownership.
John Pesutto, the leader of the opposition party, issued a statement in which he said that “the premier simply cannot be believed when he says he will build 800,000 homes over the course of 10 years.”
When it comes to housing, we’ve been given these assurances on multiple occasions, but none of them have come to fruition.
However, the chapter of the housing statement titled “good decisions made faster” is the most important component of the document since it outlines revisions to the way in which the state plans its communities.
If a development is worth at least $50 million in Melbourne and $15 million in regional Victoria, then the planning applications for the development will be managed by the state government rather than by the local councils, provided that the proposal includes at least 10% affordable housing.
The planning minister, Sonya Kilkenny, will be given the authority to make the final decision about these projects. This will shorten the approval process from the previous maximum of two years to just four as well as Administrative Tribunal with local councils and resident advocacy groups.
At the announcement on Wednesday, the premier was accompanied by representatives from the Housing Industry Association, Master Builders Victoria, the Property Council of Australia, and the Urban Development Institute of Australia. All of these groups expressed their satisfaction with the modifications.
However, according to Buxton, the revisions will result in a “significant erosion of democratic rights” for the local people.
“What it is going to do is take away existing rights that residents have as well as authorities that the council has. “The democratic method of reaching decisions is going to undergo a significant transformation as a result of this,” he explained.
According to Buxton, the data demonstrates that the delays are not the result of councils but rather of developers who are delaying the development of larger projects due to the high price of construction.
“It’s a manufactured crisis,” he stated.
According to data that was issued on Wednesday by the Municipal Association of Victoria, there are around 200,000 houses, townhouses, and flats that have been approved in accordance with Victoria’s planning rules but work has not yet commenced on any of them.