International students in Victoria face unsafe accommodation
The community-based organization conducted the International Student Housing Project report to document the housing issues facing international students in the state and to identify relevant limitations or gaps in laws and regulatory practices. current.
Researchers found that students faced homelessness after illegal evictions and were scammed by unscrupulous rental providers.
The report also analyzed a number of complaints filed with Consumer Affairs Victoria and the City of Melbourne on behalf of international students and found that there are gaps and limitations in the regulatory framework for the rental industry.
“International students also face significant obstacles in initiating legal proceedings”
“International students are an important part of Victoria’s vibrant community and make a huge contribution to the economy,” the report says.
âYet many international students end up living in precarious housing, including unregistered and non-compliant rooming houses, sublets, licenses and host families, and other informal or ambiguous situations.
“These types of housing are often overcrowded, unsafe and in poor condition, and international students living in such housing are much more vulnerable to unscrupulous behavior and exploitation by rental housing providers.”
The report draws on data and consolidates the lessons of WEstjustice’s International Student Legal Accommodation Service, as well as the experiences of participants in the International Student Housing Network.
From August 1, 2019 to December 11, 2020, WEstjustice organized the ISALS clinic, in partnership with the Study Melbourne Student Center, to provide legal assistance to international students with housing issues.
WEstjustice provided legal assistance to 250 clients over the 16 month period and reached 319 international students, with some clients accompanied by roommates. Data collected in the course of working with clients fed into the report.
He also received data from a survey that received 48 anonymous responses.
Problems identified by WEstjustice included non-repayment of deposits with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority and withholding of deposits without cause as well as illegal evictions putting students at risk of homelessness.
Students also receive misleading information from landlords, which can infringe on their rights as tenants and lead to financial abuse. The report says they also face misrepresentation, deceptive behavior and scams from unscrupulous rental providers who target international students.
He noted the prevalence of students living in arrangements that fall outside of the rental provider and conventional tenant relationship, where it is not clear whether they are covered by rental laws.
âInternational students also face significant obstacles in initiating legal proceedings and asserting their rights, such as significant fears about exercising their legal rights, lack of access to legal information, as well as delays and complexity of legal processes, âthe report’s authors added.
âEnsuring a good student experience is a major concern for all Australian universities,â said Catriona Jackson, CEO of Universities Australia. The news from PIE.
âEach of our universities has a full range of services and support systems. They provide a range of information, including housing information, to students in the pre-departure, arrival and orientation stages, as well as on an ongoing basis.
“Any student who is having issues with their housing is strongly encouraged to discuss the issue with their university,” Jackson added.
Students who wish to file a complaint about their accommodation may face challenges due to gaps and limitations in the rental industry’s regulatory framework, according to the report.
“The current regulatory approach is primarily reactive and complaint-driven, rather than proactive and investigative, which is onerous for tenants who are often unaware of their rights or who are not empowered to enforce their rights. “, says the report.
“There is a lack of coordination and information sharing between different regulatory authorities and service providers, and in particular between Consumer Affairs Victoria and local councils with regard to rooming houses.”
He also noted that there were concerns that regulators very rarely use enforcement options, such as fines and prosecution, undermining any deterrent effect of regulation; and complaints can take a long time to investigate, and complainants are often not informed of their progress or results.
âAs rental regulations are controlled by eight separate state and territory governments in Australia, there can be great variation in the conditions and regulatory frameworks,â said Phil Honeywood, Managing Director of the IEAA , at The PIE.
âIn some states, student housing falls under residential school planning laws that are not always geared towards what young people are looking for.
âFortunately, in recent years, our public universities have gone to great lengths to make safe, welcoming and high-quality accommodation for their students an essential activity,â he said.
“PBSA facilities are almost always of a high standard because they have to respect their contractual agreements with the universities”
Honeywood explained that this has also led many universities to sign partnerships with the large providers of specially designed student housing.
“APPA’s facilities are almost always of a high standard, as they must adhere to their contractual agreements with universities to ensure continued orientation for students,” Honeywood said.
âIn the private housing market, state governments now place great importance on tenants’ rights. As with any country of study destination, students are strongly advised to do their own research prior to departure and not to rely on or commit to informal arrangements until they have verified by themselves- same, âhe added.
In 2019, more than 299,600 international students were enrolled in Victoria, contributing an estimated $ 13.7 billion to the economy through the education sector alone.