‘Locked down and locked out’: REIV campaigns to open real estate safely

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has mounted a campaign against property market restrictions on behalf of the tens of thousands of sector employees and impacted Victorians.

From Wednesday, REIV will fund full-page advertisements in major metropolitan newspapers which will highlight the sector’s concern that one-on-one property inspections cannot be undertaken under current Victorian Government COVID-19 regulations.

‘Locked down and locked out. Mr Premier, please give us our keys back,’ the advertisement will read, alongside an image of Premier Andrews.

The advertising continues with the message that ‘Victorians are being denied their basic right to rent, buy and sell a home…The financial and emotional stress of losing deposits, defaulting on contracts and not being able to secure appropriate living arrangements is leaving families in distress and endangering lives’.

The advertising campaign will also be distributed via social media channels and emailed directly to REIV members, who will share the message widely through their networks of property owners, buyers and renters who have been severely impacted by their inability to transact.

It’s expected many will take up the campaign’s call-to-action, which is to write to the Premier directly to help him understand their challenging situations and concerns with the government’s approach.

Authorised by REIV Chief Executive Officer Gil King, the campaign follows a failure of the Victorian Government to understand that the property sector can operate safely during a pandemic.

“Ever since the beginning of COVID-19, the REIV, on behalf of the sector, has outlined that private property inspections – residential and commercial – can occur safely,” Mr King said.

“We have made dozens upon dozens of representations to the Victorian Government but are repeatedly ignored.

“We are determined to ensure the message gets through, and if taking a more public stance means the voices of Victorians are heard, then we are prepared to invest resources into that approach.”

The sector’s concern with the Victorian Government extends beyond private inspections.

The recently released Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme was considered a ‘one-sided program’ that would put a number of small and medium-sized property owners in financial distress.

Last year’s residential eviction moratorium was put in place by the government without any discussion with the sector or consideration for property owners, according to REIV President Leah Calnan.

“When Victorians buy, sell or rent a property, they are making some of the most significant financial decisions of their lives,” Ms Calnan said.

She went on to explain in-person inspections are a fundamental aspect of property transaction due diligence.

Ms Calnan believes buyers and renters are flying blind without it, while sellers and rental providers aren’t able to position their asset at its best.

“Lockdown regulations that ban property inspection by private appointment are creating an unnecessary burden on the property market, impacting aspiring homeowners and mum and dad investors,” she said.

Mr King noted the most critical issue was the restrictions stopping many people from being able access rental properties.

“Banning inspections effectively shuts down the property sector, which rubs salt into the wounds of an industry that has been excluded from government financial support despite its significant economic contribution through the employment of thousands of people and the payment of billions of dollars in taxes,” Mr King said.

“Our members regularly convey the severe hardship many of their clients are facing. Suffocating a sector with unnecessary rules is already impacting the health, safety and mental wellbeing of the community and we shudder at the thought of potential longer-term consequences.

“The REIV is ready and willing to work with the Victorian Government in finding the solutions that enable
business to resume while ensuring the safety of all Victorians.”

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