Victorian Renting Laws Are Changing

New rental laws for residential properties will be coming into effect on March 29th 2021. It’s important to understand these new changes whether you’re a landlord, agent, or renter as it will affect all parties and refers to the whole lifecycle of the rental agreement.

We’ve listed some of the key takeaways below, but Modo Property highly recommends that you read through the full list of changes on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. The changes are intended to “clarify the rights and responsibilities of renters, landlords, and agents”.

Firstly, landlords must disclose to the tenant whether the property is on the market for sale or is being repossessed or if they are not the owner of the property prior to entering a rental agreement. Rental providers are also banned from inviting offers of rent higher than the advertised price, which must be advertised at a fixed amount (properties can no longer be advertised at a price range.)

Changes to disclosure have been made as well. Landlords (or their agent) must only use personal information disclosed in a rental application to assess the applicant’s suitability as a renter (or to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.) Inappropriate information cannot be requested as part of a rental application (for example: the renter’s bond history; if the applicant has previously had any disputes with a rental provider; and bank or credit card statements that show transactions made by the renter.)

All rental application forms must also include an information statement that educates applicants, rental providers and agents about unlawful discrimination.

Each renter who signed the rental agreement must now be provided with a free set of keys or security device (for example, to access an apartment building’s car park). If both a key and security device are required for the renter to access and enjoy the rented property, they must both be provided free of charge. Rental providers can only charge a reasonable fee for additional or replacement keys or devices.

Laws regarding bonds have changed as well. A maximum of one month’s rent can be requested as a bond (or if VCAT has specifically set a higher maximum bond for the property). It is, however, legal to request an additional bond in long-term rental agreements of more than five years if the renter has lived at the rental property continuously for at least five years, and if the renter is given at least 120 days’ notice.

A new process is now in place for repeated late or non-payment of rent. When a renter pays back overdue rent within 14 days, any notice to vacate issued by the rental provider for that overdue rent is invalidated. This applies for the first four times it happens in a 12-month period. On the fifth occasion, a notice to vacate may be issued and an application made to VCAT for a possession order.

Broken cooling appliances, a functioning smoke alarm, pest infestation, mould, and meeting the rental minimum standards are now considered as urgent repairs. Renters must be paid back by the rental providers for the cost of urgent repairs (or replacement if the fault cannot be repaired) within seven days of the renter giving written notice.

If a rental property is to be sold, the landlord or agent has a right to enter to show the property to a prospective buyer, or conduct an open inspection of the property to prospective buyers. To enter the property to conduct open or closed sales inspections, the landlord or agent must give the tenant at least 14 days’ notice of intention to sell before entry is proposed, and make reasonable efforts to agree with the tenant on suitable days and times.  Sales inspections can be exercised no more than twice per week, with at least 48 hours’ written notice.

The landlord or their agent must pay the tenant either half a days’ rent or $30 (whichever is greater) in compensation for each sales inspection. Tenants will also be entitled to compensation if any of their goods are stolen or damaged during any right of entry. 
Further changes related to fixed-term rent increases, breach of duty notices, modifications, and much more are outlined in the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. Again, we recommend reading these changes and talking to your property manager about how they will affect your property.

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