Making Evictions into Homelessness a Last resort: A ‘Reasonableness’ Framework and a Focus on Prevention

In a housing environment that is tough on tenants – including a lack of affordable housing options, soaring waiting lists for social housing, and homelessness services that are overwhelmed with demand – Victoria needs a legal and policy framework that makes evictions into homelessness a last resort.

Through Justice Connect Homeless Law’s eviction prevention work, we see first-hand how existing legal frameworks make it too easy to evict vulnerable Victorian tenants into homelessness1.  Drawing on this evidence-base and the Scottish example, this article contemplates the legislative and practice-based changes that could move Victoria closer to being a community genuinely focussed on homelessness prevention.

Single mother and her children with very limited protection against an avoidable eviction

Sheena is a single mother of two children living in a private rental property. She has bipolar disorder and recently experienced family violence from her husband, which caused her to separate from him. When she was hospitalised for her mental health, she fell behind in her rent. The landlord decided to seek a possession order from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in her absence. When she approached Justice Connect Homeless Law for legal help, the locks were about to be changed by the police.

We assisted her to lodge an urgent review application because she had not attended the first hearing, and this put a hold on the locks being changed. In the lead up to the VCAT hearing, our social worker also managed to arrange significant financial brokerage from three separate support services.

[Click here] to read the full article. The full article is available online and in the HousingWORKS journal for the Members of the Australasian Housing Institute. If you're not an AHI Member, join now to receive a quarterly HousingWORKS journal, as well as many other member benefits such as opportunities for continuing education and development, the professional accreditation and access to the community of fellow housing professionals. Click here to learn more how to join the Institute.