Consumer Affairs Victoria flooded with calls about rental market

Victoria’s consumer watchdog has been flooded with tens of thousands of calls about rental issues in just 12 months.

Consumer Affairs Victoria has confirmed it received almost 74,000 calls about rental matters in 2014-15 with terminations of rental contracts topping the list at 13,300. Many of the calls are believed to be complaints.

Repairs and maintenance calls came in second, surpassing 8500 and bonds reached almost 4000. 

The decrease may be attributed to more people seeking information online.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria chief executive Enzo Raimondo said he was not surprised by the latest figures with the number of rental properties in the hundreds of thousands in Melbourne.

He said property management had become increasingly valued by real estate agents and there had been improvements in that sector of the market.

“In this day and age of increased competition and where customer service is paramount, anyone who doesn’t do the right thing will lose business,” he said.

Mr Raimondo said more people were choosing to rent in their desired location and buy investment properties elsewhere.

The Victorian government is currently reviewing residential rental laws. One proposal under consideration would allow renters to secure tenancies for 10 years at a time.

Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said rental laws were being reviewed to give tenants and landlords more security.

“We know the housing market has changed dramatically and more people are choosing to rent,” she said.

Swinburne University’s Institute for Social Research senior researcher Wendy Stone said Australia’s rental market was “lightly regulated” in comparison to some other countries.

She said there had been an “intensification of investment” in the property market, which was driving some investors to turnover properties quickly.

This meant some renters had to leave with relatively short notice.

Dr Stone welcomed the government’s review of rental laws, saying there was a “diversity of needs” in the private rental market.

“Many people now can’t afford home ownership and are renting for a long period of time. This includes families with children,” she said.

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