Making it home: refugee housing in Melbourne's west

11 Apr 2012

Disturbing accounts of dodgy real estate agents and exploitative landlords are only some of the revelations in the report that will be launched by the Hon. Lindsay Tanner today.

Laura Berta, community solicitor at Footscray Community Legal Centre and author of the report, said real estate agents often ignore refugees’ requests for repairs.

“We helped an Iraqi family who lived with a collapsed roof for a month and a Burmese family who survived the winter with no heating or hot water,” Ms Berta said.

Ms Berta said the failure of governments to address these issues was deeply concerning.

“Current laws allow real estate agents to get away with this,” she said.

Ms Berta said changes in the law were desperately needed.

“We need to change the repair process so real estate agents take complaints seriously,” she said.

The report, which is based on clients seen by the Footscray Community Legal Centre, details the disadvantage refugees face due to language and cultural barriers. Refugees face unfair evictions and loss of bond money and struggle to represent themselves when an issue arises. Refugees also struggle to access affordable housing and as a result are at an increased risk of homelessness.

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