New rental laws came into effect in Victoria on 29 March 2021.
The law changes expand the rights and responsibilities of renters (tenants ) and rental providers (landlords).
The changes span the lifecycle of a rental agreement - from before you sign a rental agreement until after the agreement ends.
We have summarised SOME COMMON RULES AND ALSO SOME of the changes as to how they relate to OVERSEAS based landlords below.
Please check with your rental agent for details.
Fixed price advertisements and offers, and ban on inviting rental bids
Rental providers (landlords) and estate agents can only advertise or offer rental properties at a fixed price. They are banned from inviting rental bids or soliciting offers of rent higher than the advertised price.
Rental providers not to unlawfully discriminate
Rental providers must not unlawfully discriminate (or instruct their agent to unlawfully discriminate) against renters in situations such as refusing to rent a property to an applicant, issuing a notice to vacate or determining consent for disability related modifications.
Maximum bond amount and rent in advance
Under the new rental laws, rental providers can only ask for a maximum of one month’s rent as a bond, and can only require rent to be paid one month in advance unless the weekly rent is more than a certain amount.
The rental provider can only charge more than one month’s worth of rent for the bond or require a renter to pay rent more than one month in advance if the weekly rental amount is more than $900, or VCAT has set a higher maximum bond for the rental property.
Additional bond amounts for long-term rental agreement
Rental providers can 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 the rental provider has given at least 120 days’ notice.
Where and how rent is to be paid
Any method for paying rent can be specified under a rental agreement, but the rental provider must offer at least one reasonably available fee-free method of payment. Rental providers must also disclose any costs that may be incurred by the nominated method prior to the renter entering the agreement. Rental providers must also permit rent payments via Centrepay.
Rental provider must provide a free set of keys for each renter
Rental providers (landlords) must provide each renter with a free set of keys or security device. Rental providers can only charge a reasonable fee for additional or replacement keys or devices.
Pets in rental properties
Renters can keep pets at a rental property with the written consent of the rental provider. A rental provider can apply to VCAT for an order that it is reasonable to refuse permission.
New process 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. However, if the renter fails to pay rent as required on a fifth occasion in the same 12-month period, the rental provider may give a notice to vacate and apply to VCAT for a possession order. VCAT may adjourn the possession application and place renter on a payment plan to meet the outstanding arrears.
Changes to rules around rent increases
For fixed-term rental agreements, rent increases can only occur if the rental agreement specifies the amount or method of the rent increase. For rent increases that occur during a fixed-term rental agreement, the amount or calculation method for the increase must be set out in the agreement and this amount or calculation method must be used.
Changes to rights of entry to a property by the rental provider
Rental providers must comply with more detailed rules around rights of entry including: extended notice period for some grounds, restrictions for renters protected under personal safety and family violence legislation, and length and frequency of entry.
Breach of duty notice
Where a renter or rental provider gives the other a breach of duty notice, the person in breach will be required to remedy the breach if possible and, if the breach has resulted in loss or damage to them, provide compensation.
Nuisance breach of duty notice
If a renter causing a nuisance is served a breach of duty notice but does not comply within seven days, the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a compensation or compliance order.
Quiet enjoyment breach of duty notice
If a rental provider who is not ensuring the renter’s quiet enjoyment is served a breach of duty notice but does not comply within seven days, the renter can apply to VCAT for a compensation or compliance order.
Utility fees and charges responsibilities
Rental providers must pay for all charges that renters are not liable for, including water charges in respect of the rented premises that are not separately metered.
Excessive utility bills
Where a renter has received an excessive utility bill attributable to a hidden fault (such as a leaking water pipe), the rental provider must pay for the costs that exceed the renter’s ordinary usage amounts.
Rental minimum standards
Under the new laws rental providers have a duty to ensure their rental property meets the rental minimum standards. Rental minimum standards have been set for door locks, ventilation, vermin proof bins, toilets, bathroom facilities, kitchen facilities, laundry facilities, structural soundness, mould and dampness, electrical safety, window coverings, windows, lighting, heating.
Non-compliance with minimum standards
Rental providers must ensure that the property complies with minimum standards before a renter moves in. If a property does not comply with the minimum standards, the renter can terminate the rental agreement before they move in, or they can request an urgent repair.
Rental property must be kept in good repair and reasonably fit for occupation
Rental providers (landlords) must ensure the rental property is provided and maintained in good repair and is in a reasonably fit and suitable condition for occupation. This applies regardless of the amount of rent paid or the property’s age and character.
Expanded definition for urgent repairs
Urgent repairs now include repairs or replacements relating to air conditioning, safety devices and any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure, including pest infestations, or mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure.
Increased limit for urgent repairs reimbursement
The money limit for renters to authorise urgent repairs when their rental provider has not promptly responded to an urgent repair request has been increased.
Rental provider must pay renter back for cost of urgent repairs within 7 days.
Rental providers must pay back renters for the cost of urgent repairs (or replacement if the fault cannot be repaired) within seven days of the renter giving written notice of the reasonable cost of the repairs.
Renters can apply directly to VCAT for non-urgent repairs if the rental provider has not carried out notified repairs within 14 days. Renters can still request a repairs report from Consumer Affairs Victoria but a repairs report is no longer be required to apply to VCAT.
New rules for renters making modifications to rented property
Renters can now make certain modifications without the rental provider’s consent. There are other modifications which a rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse consent to renters making.