As part of the state’s review and overhaul of its residential tenancy legislation, the Victorian government is set to allow landlords and property managers to send correspondence, such as eviction notices, via electronic means such as email.
This has drawn the ire of the Tenants Union of Victoria, who believes the seriousness of an eviction notice requires a more formal method of delivery.
“We have concerns about allowing the something like an eviction notice to be sent by email,” TUV policy officer Yaelle Casspi said.
“In our opinion eviction notices should still be sent by registered post. We don’t think there are enough safeguards in place currently to guarantee that a notice sent by email is going to be adequate. It might go to an address that somebody doesn’t check often or end up in a spam folder,” Casspi said.
The TUV argues that registered post ensure there is sufficient documentation to ensure the eviction process has been handled appropriately.
“Even an email and then a phone call is still a relatively informal method. Registered post is the most appropriate delivery method and provides a good source of documentation,” Casspi said.
“Tenants have the right to security of tenancy and we don’t think it should be too much to ask that something as significant as a notice to vacate is delivered in a formal matter.”
But those in the industry, such as Helen Matsoukis, operations manager at Metro Property Management, said she could see the advantages of allowing notices to be sent via email.
“I think it’s a method that should be made available to use,” Matsoukis said.
“It would probably be an easier way to do things and I can’t see why communication with tenants can’t keep up with advancements in technology,” she said.
While she is in favour of giving landlords and managers the option of using email for eviction notices, she said it should be used on a case-by-case basis.
“If it gets to the point where you have to send an eviction notice, there’s a good chance somebody is behind on their bills and may not have access to the internet.
“For me, I would still stick by our company policy of using registered post. You would need to be mindful of how you usually correspond with that tenant. If you’ve established a relationship where email is a common form of communication then I would say it would be no problem, if not I would probably think about using another method.”
While there is a mixed response in Victoria to the idea of using elctronic communication methods to deliver eviction notices, it could be a method that becomes more commonplace with the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales pushing for the increased use of communication methods such as email in real estate dealings in NSW.