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Impact of latest changes to Victoria’s rental laws on landlords

05/08/2021

After much discussion and many submissions from the Victorian community, the Residential Tenancies Act has seen the largest rental changes in more than two decades.

As of 29 March 2021, 132 reforms and law changes have come into effect clarifying the rights and responsibilities of the renters (previously tenants) and rental providers (previously landlords). These changes have an impact through every stage of the rental process – from before a rental agreement is even signed right through to after the agreement ends. In this blog, I’ll touch on the key reforms impacting residential rental providers today, but a full list of changes are available on the Consumer Affairs website, if you’re interested. Let’s jump right in…

Terminology changes

The new residential tenancy laws in Victoria refer to landlords as rental providers, tenants as renters, tenancy agreements as rental agreements and rooming house owners as rooming house operators.

Making modifications

Renters now have the flexibility to make prescribed modifications to the rental property, without the rental providers consent and rental providers cannot unreasonably refuse consent to some modifications. Of course, damages as a result of modifications (that are not considered fair wear and tear) will need to be remedied by renters, however things like painting walls and affixing picture hooks are fair game.

Renting with pets

This change took the lead, coming in earlier than expected in March 2020 – our furry friends are hear to stay with renters given the green light to bring pets into the rental with consent. However, note while consent must be applied for, a rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse a request to keep a pet. If there’s reasonable grounds to refuse permission a rental provider can apply to VCAT for an order.

Disclosure statements

Rental providers must now disclose important information to the renters before they sign a rental
agreement. This disclosure statement needs to be filled out each time a new rental agreement is signed and/or renewed.

Consumer Affairs disclosure requirements are extremely detailed series of questions that the rental provider must submit with each leased signed. This important document will be sent directly to the rental provider to ensure they comply with legislation and all relevant items are disclosed to the renter.

Rental Properties – Minimum standards

Rental providers must also make sure the rental property meets a set list of minimum standards on or before the day a renter moves in.

If the property does not meet minimum standards renters can end their rental agreement before moving in or they can request an urgent repair.

The minimum standards apply to rental agreements that started after 29 March 2021 and roll over into periodic agreement on or after 29th of March.

The minimum standards are divided below into 14 categories. All rental properties must meet the standards of each category. Each of the 14 categories and definition of minimum standards are again all available in detail on the Consumer Affairs website, however these items include:

  • Locks
  • Vermin proof bins
  • Toilets
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry
  • Structural soundness
  • Mould and damp
  • Electrical safety
  • Window coverings
  • Windows
  • Lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Heating

Penalties apply if a property fails to meet these requirements, so it’s in your best interest to undertake necessary checks before entering a new agreement. There are also consequences for not carrying out requested repairs to bring the property up to minimum standards.

Gas and electrical safety checks

Under the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021, all residential rental properties are required to undergo an annual Smoke Alarm Safety Service, a two-yearly Gas and Carbon Monoxide Service, and Electrical Safety Service.

As a rental provider you are required to ensure a certificate of compliance is completed under all three sections. These services have been made mandatory to ensure the safety of residential rental properties and their renters.

Changes, changes and a few more changes

From an updated rental agreement, maximum bond and no more than one month’s rent to be paid in advance, fixed price advertising, a ban on inviting rental bids, misleading or deceptive advertising, through to changes on applications with changes to inappropriate rental application questions and unlawful discrimination information, on top of all those changes mentioned above – there’s a lot to keep up to date on.

With so many changes in the air, it’s never been as important to have your property managed by an expert. By engaging a qualified property manager, like our team at The Hopkins Group, you can rest easy knowing your property is in safe hands. To learn more about how The Hopkins Group property management services can help ease the burden on rental providers shoulders keeping up to date on the latest changes, contact us today.

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