REIV slams VIC Government for continued ban on in-person inspections

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria says the VIC Government’s continued ban on in-person inspections will “effectively keep the property market shut down for an uncertain period”.

A statement came shortly after Premier Daniel Andrews made his 6 September 2020 announcement that strict lockdowns would be extended a further two weeks in Victoria.

The REIV said the continuation of the ban meant people who need to lease a property will have to make that decision ‘sight unseen.’

“Before the introduction of Stage 4 restrictions, people could visit a property one-on-one with the agent,” the REIV said.

“Private inspections are done with all safety measures including requirements for surface cleaning, gloves, masks, and contact details and are 100 per cent supervised.”

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REIV president Leah Calnan said the continued inspection ban was compounding financial stress on Victorians and the Victorian economy.

“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,” she said.

Meanwhile, REIV CEO Gil King said private inspections were 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,” he stated.

In a formal statement, the REIV went on to note the real estate industry had effectively been served a ‘double whammy’, with the extension of the rental moratorium compounding problems for the sector.

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“While this was not unexpected, landlords have virtually no relief while tenants get substantial support,” the REIV said.

“With many reduced rental agreements due for re-negotiation this month, the REIV is advising its members to refuse to negotiate rent reductions, forcing every request into the dispute system, a system that has already failed to cope with the caseload.”

“The lack of understanding by the Victorian government regarding the operations of the real estate sector is evidenced in almost every facet of the way which it has handled the restrictions and the moratorium,” the REIV said.

Calls for REIV to retract its directive

On Monday, 7 September, Victorian Council of Social Service bit back, saying the REIV must retract its “callous” and “dangerous” directive to “refuse to negotiate rent reductions.”

VCOSS CEO Emma King said the REIV’s move would increase hardship for private renters and embolden dodgy landlords.

“The REIV need to pull their heads in and retract this misguided, callous and dangerous directive,” she said.

“Rent reductions are a key part of protecting tenants from eviction and homelessness during COVID—a process agreed to by the National Cabinet.”

“That system is reliant on good faith negotiations between tenants and landlords.”

“Intentionally undermining this process is a kick in the guts for renters.”

“Landlords must understand if they refuse to enter into a good faith negotiation, they’ll be compelled to enter into a formal dispute resolution.”

“There’s no getting around this. The law is the law.”

“The Victorian Government is urging everybody to stay safe in their homes. It’s appalling the REIV is pushing in the opposite direction, and using tenants as a bargaining chip.”