New online tools to help Victorians avoid eviction
20 Feb 2020
We are helping stop homelessness before it begins through clever, digital community education. Our new self-help tool makes it easier for Victorian renters to avoid eviction due to rental arrears.
Falling behind on rent because of financial insecurity continues to be the main cause of eviction for women and their children, particularly in private rental properties. Despite this being the reality for many Victorians, many don’t know that in most cases preventative steps can be taken.
Dear Landlord, our interactive self-help tool, draws on learnings from the five years we’ve spent running our Women’s Homelessness Prevention Project. It represents another Justice Connect project which has been informed by our casework and launched to scale our impact. Our aim is to reduce the number of preventable evictions happening in Victoria and provide tools and resources to Victorians in rental arrears.
Online tools for Victorian renters in rental arrears
Dear Landlord helps Victorian renters facing housing insecurity take action early and avoid eviction for falling behind in rent. We developed the letter writing tool based on the sheer number of evictions happening for preventable reasons. The letter writer empowers renters to learn about their rights and approach their landlord or real estate agent for alternative solutions.
People who land on the tool are guided through a series of questions, ultimately generating a tailored letter to their landlord, which can help negotiate a way for them to stay in their rental property. It can also help anyone who has missed an eviction hearing by drafting a review application to VCAT, so that the hearing can be re-heard. With a little help, people can take control of their situation and stay safely housed.
Digital innovation supports our intensive services
Dear Landlord is part of a suite of self-help tools for Victorian renters, which also includes a customised explanatory video and key resources list, to improve understanding of the often-confusing eviction process. These tools are based on direct insights from people with lived experience of housing insecurity, homelessness and financial instability and the community workers that support them.
For tenants with higher needs or complex legal issues, our self-help tools are a pathway into our intensive Homeless Law service, which provides integrated civil and criminal legal representation and social work supports.
Over the next six months, we’ll continue to test our self-help tools to monitor what works and develop and iterate Dear Landlord accordingly.
Community engagement and education
We’re currently rolling out an education and engagement program to promote the use of Dear Landlord by renters and community workers, so that they act earlier in spotting – and take steps to avoid – the risk of eviction for rental arrears.
For the first time, we are also working closely with key real estate agencies, offering the self-help tools as a more constructive way for property managers to engage with tenants who may be falling behind in rent. We want to promote the tools to these key groups to foster cultural and behavioural change, so that we can identify opportunities for early intervention.
Keep in touch
If you are interested in hearing more about Dear Landlord, using the tools with your clients, or providing us with any feedback, please contact our Homeless Law team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Justice Connect is grateful to the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust for its visionary and generous support of Dear Landlord, along with our cross-sector project partners. We particularly acknowledge the people with lived experience of housing insecurity, homelessness and financial instability, who shared their insights that directly contributed to the development of Dear Landlord.
Use the Dear Landlord Tool