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Victorian property laws under scrutiny in public consultation

Victoria has launched a public consultation into consumer laws in the property sector, giving residents a platform to voice their concerns.

A review panel, selected by the state, has developed a consultation paper that identifies several pressing issues and lays out how they intend to solicit a wide range of opinions.

Victorians are being encouraged to have their say via an online survey, by uploading a submission or by registering for a public consultation.

Targeted workshops, interviews and small group consultations will also be held across a range of stakeholder groups.

While the panel is inviting feedback across consumer experiences in the industry, the consultation paper outlines several areas they believe are of greatest concern.

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Chief among them is the practice of underquoting, with a revaluation already in the works to examine the functionality of the underquoting reforms introduced in 2016.

Given the warnings issued by Consumer Affairs Victoria over the illegal practice and recent cases in the state, the panel is already considering whether the laws governing this activity need to be strengthened.

The review also intends to scrutinise the factors behind consumer complaints over agent conduct, planning to look at the education requirements for professionals involved in the real estate sector.

Issues surrounding off-the-plan sales will also be a prime avenue of investigation.

The panel is under the direction of Enzo Raimondo, who spent 16 years as the chief executive of the Real Estate Institute of Australia, and Carolyn Bond, the former co-CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre. They are supported by regulation and reform expert Claire Noone and the Nous consultancy.

Victoria’s Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne said she intended, through this process, to make sure the laws that apply to the property market are fit for purpose.

“There has been considerable change in the property market, and this review will ensure our laws are best supporting Victorians to have the fair and easy access to the housing market they deserve,” Ms Horne said.

“I encourage all Victorians to have their say on how the current consumer laws can be improved to create a property market that is fairer for Victorians”.

The consultation has been launched as Victoria has declared that it will introduce a new Social and Affordable Housing Contribution on certain developments from July 2024.

All newly built developments with three dwellings or more, or of three or more residential lot subdivisions, will need to contribute 1.75 per cent of the market value of the completed project to the Social Housing Growth Fund. 

While several social housing groups have welcomed the proposal, there have been concerns raised that the new tax will add to costs for first home buyers.

Michael Sukkar, the federal Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, Homelessness, Social and Community Housing, said this latest tax increase would punish first home buyers and restrict the supply of housing.

[Related: Victoria set to bring in social housing 'contribution']

Victorian property laws under scrutiny in public consultation
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