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REIV calls on government to ease ban on inspections

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The REIV says the ability to conduct home inspections is a critical element in the property sales process. Photo: Shutterstock

REIV calls on government to ease ban on inspections

Victoria’s peak real estate industry group has blasted the state government’s “onerous and unnecessary” property market restrictions, as a fresh round of support is rolled out for tenants affected by the latest lengthening lockdown.

Victoria’s peak real estate industry group has blasted the state government’s “onerous and unnecessary” property market restrictions, as a fresh round of support is rolled out for tenants affected by the latest lengthening lockdown.

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne this week announced a new grants program would be launched to help those battling to pay their rent because of the lockdown.

Renters experiencing hardship will be provided grants of up to $1,500, paid directly to the property owner.

Income limits apply, while to be eligible for the one-off payments the renter must pay more than 30 per cent of their income in rent.

“This will help to alleviate those very real concerns of residential tenants who are financially struggling due to the economic impacts of the pandemic - and more Victorians safely housed means less Victorians experiencing homelessness when they need a home the most,” Mr Wynne said in a statement.

A previous round of rent relief grants provided funds to more than 33,000 renters when it ran from April last year until March.

The residential support follows the Victorian government last month finalising relief for commercial tenants struggling with rental payments.

Businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million that have experienced a reduction in turnover of 30 per cent or more are eligible for a proportionate reduction in rent.

Landlords will be provided land tax relief of up to 25 per cent in return for providing the rent reduction.

The scheme is largely similar to the previous commercial tenancy relief provided by the state government, which legal analysts said imposed an overarching responsibility to cooperate and act in good faith on the landlord and tenant when negotiating the rent reductions.

But the Real Estate Institute of Victoria has taken aim at the state government’s approach to managing the pandemic this week, saying the restrictions on home inspections effectively shut down the property sector.

Real estate agents in Victoria are barred from conducting any in-person inspections until September 23 at the earliest, when private inspections for unoccupied homes will be allowed.

After that date, all other inspections will need to take place remotely, while live auctions will remain banned.

REIV chief executive Gil King said an advertising blitz in major newspapers would highlight the state government’s failure to understand that the sector can operate safely during an outbreak.

“Ever since the beginning of COVID-19, the REIV, on behalf of the sector, has outlined that private property inspections - residential and commercial - can occur safely,” Mr King said.

“We have made dozens upon dozens of representations to the Victorian government, but are repeatedly ignored.

“We are determined to ensure the message gets through, and if taking a more public stance means the voices of Victorians are heard, then we are prepared to invest resources into that approach.”

The REIV also blasted the “one-sided” Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, which it said would result in financial stress for a large number of small and medium-sized property owners.

REIV president Leah Calnan criticised Daniel Andrews’ government for not consulting with industry when it enacted a moratorium on residential evictions last year.

“When Victorians buy, sell or rent a property, they are making some of the most significant financial decisions of their lives,” Ms Calnan said.

“In-person inspection is a fundamental aspect of property transaction due-diligence.

“Without it, buyers and renters are flying blind, and sellers and rental providers aren’t able to position their asset at its best.”

Ms Calnan said the inspection restrictions had placed an unnecessary burden on the property market, which had impacted aspiring homeowners and mum and dad investors.

“Banning inspections effectively shuts down the property sector, which rubs salt into the wounds of an industry that has been excluded from government financial support despite its significant economic contribution through the employment of thousands of people and the payment of billions of dollars in taxes,” she said.

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