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Melbourne lockdown: Homeowners plea for inspections ban to end

By Tahnee Milner


Melbourne homeowners and tenants facing homelessness and financial strife are pleading with Premier Daniel Andrews to allow physical home inspections to resume.

The crucial element in the buying and leasing processes has been outlawed in Melbourne since early August.

The government plans to extend the ban to October 26, assuming Victoria records fewer than five daily coronavirus cases over the two weeks prior.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said the harsh ruling had been made despite none of the state’s coronavirus cases being directly linked to real estate activity.

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Ms Calnan said the institute met with the government last week to push for private inspections to be brought forward to the second step on the state’s road map to reopening, due to kick in from September 28.

She said the road map announcement had sparked dozens of “heartbreaking” calls from buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords, including people who had already bought new homes and now couldn’t sell their old ones.

“Tenants, too, are needing to move out to meet new COVID-19 budgets but they can’t view properties,” she said.

“Providing shelter should be an essential service.

“In the meeting, we also raised that … we’ve continually mentioned to the government if they’ve heard of any cases (linked to real estate activity), please let us know. But we haven’t heard of any cases.”

Mr Andrews said on Sunday he was “happy to have a look at” reviewing the inspections ban in certain circumstances. But he added: “People are buying houses they haven’t seen. Online auctions are still happening.”

OBrien Keysborough director Darren Hutchins said very few people were willing to “take on property they can’t physically inspect”, and many of his vendors and landlords were “struggling” as a result.

Debra Wilmot’s Skye home of 13 years was stranded on the market due to the “ridiculous” private inspections ban.

Ms Wilmot said she “had to sell” after being stood down from her catering and events job as she “didn’t know if I’d get my job back at all”.

She was initially delighted when it appeared her house had sold after six days on the market, but the deal fell through when the purchasers couldn’t get finance.

Her agent, Ray White Langwarrin’s Nicholas Cassidy, told her not to worry at the time as he had “people lined up ready to inspect” when the ban was lifted. But that is now several more weeks away.

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