It’s been almost one year since Victoria reformed the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 to accommodate a host of changes. We revisit the major changes to make sure rental providers are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the Act in 2022 and beyond.
When did these changes come into effect?
Most changes were implemented from March 29, 2021, though some changes are subject to a staggered introduction between 2021 and 2023.
CHANGES TO SECURING A TENANCY
Fixed price rentals and no rent bidding
Under the new regulations agents must specify a fixed rental price on listings and cannot invite ‘rental bids’ soliciting offers above the asking price.
Maximum bond amounts
Under the reforms a bond equivalent to a maximum of one month’s rent can be requested from new renters for leases under $900 a week. A rental provider can request an additional bond amount for long-term rental agreements, if the renter has been in place for more than five years and there has been 120 days of notice.
CHANGES TO ENDING A TENANCY
Eviction for repeated late rent
The rules around repeated late rental payments have changed. Under the new rules 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 can occur four times in a 12 month period. If rent is late a fifth time the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a possession order. Note that VCAT may choose to place the renter on a payment plan rather than proceed with a possession order.
Valid reason for ending a tenancy
Rental providers are prohibited from issuing a ‘no specified reason’ notice to vacate. They must specify a reason including sale, change of use, demolition, or intention for the owner to reoccupy in order for a notice to be valid.
A new ground for ending a tenancy under the reforms is notice to vacate for endangering safety, which can be issued if the renter or a visitor of theirs endangers the safety of neighbours/the rental provider/agents or contractors.
CHANGES TO MANAGING A TENANCY
Basic minimum standards
Rental providers now need to ensure their rental properties conform to basic minimum standards. This includes the installation of showerheads with an efficiency rating of 3 or above and a cooktop with two or more burners.
Some minimum standards are being implemented in a staggered manner. For example, a rule requiring curtains or blinds to be fitted to any room that is likely to be used as a bedroom or living area is due for implementation from March 29, 2022.
The current minimum standards require the fitment of a fixed heater in good working order in the main living room. From 2023, this heater will be required to be energy efficient (for example, with an energy efficiency rating of at least 2).
Rental providers who enter into a new tenancy agreement or have a fixed term agreement of more than five years which rolls over into a periodic tenancy must ensure that gas and electricity safety checks are conducted every two years.
Renters can now pay up to $2500 for an urgent repair if they have made a reasonable attempt to contact the rental provider or agent and the repair has not been fixed immediately. The previous amount was $1800.
Modifications by renter
Under the reforms, rental providers require a ‘reasonable reason’ to refuse renter requests to make modifications to their rental, including painting walls and installing a pet door. Changes can’t be in contravention of body corporate guidelines. Renters can also install picture hooks and screws without seeking rental provider permission.
Renters and pets
Under the reforms renters can keep pets at their property with the consent of the rental provider. If the rental provider would like to refuse permission, they must apply to VCAT for an order that it is reasonable to do so.
Where can I find more information on the changes to Victoria’s rental laws?
For additional information on the changes, contact your property management team or visit the Consumer Victoria website and refer to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 for a full list of rights and responsibilities.