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Aussie renters slam 'lucky dip' housing solution as market remains 'very competitive'

A ballot system has been introduced in Victoria to help low to moderate income renters, but not everyone's a fan.

Tenants desperately searching for a home in Melbourne have slammed Victoria’s new affordable rental housing scheme over its “lucky dip” ballot system.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, a young local woman she originally wanted to apply for a rental property in Ascot Vale, but was put off when she discovered that there was a ballot system in place.

The brand new two bedroom, one bathroom property on Dunlop Avenue in Ascot Vale is available for $365 per week as part of the Big Housing Build by Homes Victoria. The program, which was launched earlier this year, is designed to help low to moderate income renters by supplying high quality housing for 10 per cent below the market rental cost in Melbourne, and at market rent in regional Victoria.

But the scheme hasn’t gone over well with its target market.

The $365 per week property in Ascot Vale is available as part of the Big Housing Build scheme. Source:
The $365 per week property in Ascot Vale is available as part of the Big Housing Build scheme. Source:

Creating a 'more equal playing field'

The prospective tenant took to Facebook to share her concern, joking that she loves “that applications for low income rentals are being drawn from a hat”. The woman also shared a screenshot from an email about the property, explaining the listing will close at 9am on Monday September 11, and “applications will be drawn via the ballot”.

According to the listing, to be eligible to enter the ballot single tenants must earn below $71,450, be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, reside in Victoria and not own a property. It then went on to explain the ballot will ensure an applicant is randomly chosen from a list. “In this way, all eligible applications have an equal chance of being offered an affordable home,” it said.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Leo Patterson Ross, the CEO of the Tenants’ Union of NSW, said so far the system is only in Victoria and designed to avoid Australia’s “very competitive” renting allocation. “In housing, we make people compete and that has some really nasty side effects where features of people can become discriminatory,” he said. “So the ballot idea is to try to have a more equal playing field.”

Mr Patterson Ross explained a lot of the debate around the ballot is that affordable housing isn’t being allocated to tenants on a needs basis, like with social housing. But as an alternative to the competitive market system, he hopes that moving away from accessing applicants against each other will create “a much more equitable way” of allocating housing. “The idea is to try to break free of this really competitive nature of the application process,” he said.

"It's not fair, it's chance," renters wrote online about the ballot system. Source:
"It's not fair, it's chance," renters wrote online about the ballot system. Source:

‘Losing to a lotto isn’t fair’

But the backlash on Facebook has pegged the system as a “lucky dip”.

“It’s not fair, it’s chance,” one person wrote, while another added that “being a good tenant is fair, losing to a lotto isn’t.” “Another sign of how crazy things have become,” a third said. While someone else asked whether you could “enter multiple times to increase your chances like normal raffle draws”.

However some argued the ballot was really fair, “especially for low income only housing”.

“They are removing a landlord’s ability to judge, be racist and favour some type of application,” one person wrote. Another agreed: “It stops favouring and makes it a fair system for the (potentially) 10-50 people that will apply. Rentals are hard to get and if this is their way of making it fair, then I don’t really see an issue.

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