Victorian property laws under scrutiny in public consultation
Victoria has launched a public consultation on consumer laws in the property sector, giving residents a platform to voice their concerns.
A review committee, selected by the state, has developed a consultation document that identifies several pressing issues and explains how it intends to solicit a wide range of opinions.
Victorians are encouraged to have their say via an online survey, uploading a submission or registering for a public consultation.
Targeted workshops, interviews and small group consultations will also be held with various stakeholder groups.
While the panel invites comment on consumer experiences in the industry, the consultation document outlines several areas they believe are of most concern.
Chief among these is the practice of undercutting, with a reassessment already underway to examine the functionality of the undercutting reforms introduced in 2016.
Given the warnings issued by Consumer Affairs Victoria about the illegal practice and recent cases in the state, the panel is already considering whether laws governing the activity need to be strengthened.
The review also aims to look at the factors behind consumer complaints about agent conduct, with plans to examine the education requirements of professionals involved in the real estate industry.
Questions surrounding off-plan sales will also be a preferred line of investigation.
The panel is led by Enzo Raimondo, who spent 16 years as chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, and Carolyn Bond, the former co-CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre. They are backed by regulation and reform expert Claire Noone and consultancy firm Nous.
Victoria’s Consumer, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne said she intends through this process to ensure that the laws that apply to the property market are suited to their purpose.
“There have been significant changes to the property market, and this review will ensure that our laws best help Victorians have fair and easy access to the housing market they deserve,” Ms Horne said.
“I encourage all Victorians to speak out on how the current consumer laws can be improved to create a fairer property market for Victorians.”
The consultation was launched as Victoria said it would introduce a new social and affordable housing levy on certain developments from July 2024.
All newly built developments of three or more units, or three or more residential developments, will be required to contribute 1.75% of the market value of the completed project to the Social Housing Growth Fund.
While several social housing groups have welcomed the proposal, concerns have been raised that the new tax will increase costs for first-time home buyers.
Michael Sukkar, federal assistant treasurer and minister for housing, homelessness, social and community housing, said this latest tax increase would punish first-time home buyers and restrict the supply of housing.
[Related: Victoria set to bring in social housing ‘contribution’]