Retirement Housing during coronavirus - updated factsheet
Many retirement housing residents have questions about their rights in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, so we put this factsheet together to answer some of the most common ones. HAAG will update this page regularly as new information comes in.
This factsheet is deliberately very broad, meant to cover a lot of different housing types, and is not legal advice. If you need advice about your specific circumstances or concerns, there is contact information at the bottom of the page.
This is obviously an extraordinary situation, and the government is making changes rapidly to protect renters. We need your help to lobby the government and industry about the changes needed to protect older residents, so please also get in touch and let us know what the most important issues are that you’re facing.
The Victorian government has introduced a number of services to help renters who have lost income due to covid-19, including a new dispute resolution scheme to help negotiate a rent reduction, and a special rent assistance grant if the reduction still leaves you in financial hardship. You can find more information about the schemes and how to get help here. If you are having trouble paying the rent but this isn’t because of a loss of income due to coronavirus, these services may not be helpful, but you can call our intake workers on the number below for information about more affordable housing options.
Temporary changes to rental laws in Victoria mean that notices to vacate serves between March 29 and September 26 this year will not be valid, and landlords who want to terminate a tenancy will have to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and show that an eviction is ‘fair and reasonable’ in the circumstances. Note that these new rules do not apply to retirement villages. If your landlord or manager applies for a termination order or otherwise threatens to evict you, you should get advice as soon as possible from HAAG or another tenant advocacy organisation.
Guest and visitor access
Many parks and villages are limiting access for a range of guests and visitors – and the Victorian Government’s Staying At Home directions also limit the reasons people may leave their home or visit yours. If you need someone to come to your home and management are trying to exclude them, consider writing to management and let them know why it’s important for that person to visit, and ask them to reconsider. If that doesn’t work, please get in touch for advice.
Facilities and services
Many parks and villages have had to suspend access to a wide range of common services and facilities – from dining and internet areas to hairdressers and regular bingo games. Depending on the particular circumstances, some residents may be entitled to a reduction of rent or maintenance charges if services or facilities have been withdrawn. Again, in the first place we recommend writing to management outlining your concerns, and asking whether they can consider reducing your fees until the services are restored.
Housing for the Aged Action Group’s Retirement Housing Advice Service can give advice to residents of caravan and residential parks, rental and retirement villages and other kinds of retirement housing. We also run a Worker Advice Line for people assisting retirement housing residents who’d like information to help your clients. Get in touch with either RHAS or the Worker Advice Line by calling 9654 7389 and pressing extension 2, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tenants Victoria has a regularly updated guide to tenants’ rights around the coronavirus and related issues at tenantsvic.org.au. Consumer Affairs Victoria has their own guide to key housing issues at consumer.vic.gov.auresources-and-tools/advice-in-a-disaster/coronavirus-covid19-and-your-rights.
If you need more information about the coronavirus itself and how you can best take of yourself and your loves ones, the Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus page has a range of useful information at dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.
If you suspect you have the coronavirus, please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.