On July 24, the Disability Services Safeguards Bill was introduced to the Victorian parliament. The Bill was the result of extensive community consultations and, with respects to SDA, it is a fantastic step forward for tenant rights.
The Bill creates a special section in the State's Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) for SDA residencies. This means that from 1 July 2019, all tenancies in the state are covered by the same legislation. The changes will be relevant to all SDA residents, whether they are funded through the NDIS or the Commonwealth's Continuity of Support Program.
Tenants will have the ability to choose between an SDA residency agreement and a standard tenancy agreement under the RTA. Providers will have 6 months from 1 July 2019 to enter into a new agreement with the resident.
Importantly, SDA residents will be exempt from paying a bond. Rent can only be increased once every 6 months and only in proportion to increases in the Disability Support Pension. Providers are required to give 60 days notice of an intention to raise the rent. The changes also confirm that SDA is exempt from land tax.
An SDA residency agreement will offer tenants additional protections. However, tenants who live with family, friends or partners that are not SDA residents may elect to have a standard tenancy agreement to avoid having multiple leases for the one property.
We are encouraged to see that the Victorian government has listened to the 59 written submissions made during the consultation period. They heard that people like the current protections and safeguards to residents' rights and want them to continue under the SDA.
This is a great outcome for SDA residents in Victoria. Next step, we just need the NDIA to approve more people to live in an SDA setting of their choice!