Residential Tenancies Act 

The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 in Victoria provides protection for all Victorians living in rental accommodation. The Act outlines the rights and obligations of the following groups:

  • Residential tenants; landlords, property managers and Owners Corporations

  • Residential park or caravan park operators

  • Retirement village operators

  • Rooming house or boarding house operators

More than than 130 changes have recently been introduced, some being introduced in stages with all reforms to have commenced by 29 March 2021. Some have been introduced with a transition period to be completed/compliant by March 2023 and some will require regulations to be written as not all the details are in the Act itself yet.

Below is a summary of the amendments:

Terminology change

The terminology has changed in accordance with the new regulations:

BEFORE A RENTAL AGREEMENT

Compliance Service Consent

As per the new Residential Tenancy Regulations 2021, from 29 March 2021 it is compulsory for compliancy checks of the below services:

➢ Gas appliances (every two years).

  • If the rented premises contains any gas installations or connections, the Residential Rental Provider must ensure that a gas safety check of all gas installations and fittings in the rented premises are conducted every two (2) years by a licensed or registered gas fitter.
  • Safety checks must be carried out in accordance with relevant Australian Standards (AS/NZS 5601 and AS 4575) and appropriate registration and documentation is issued.

➢ Smoke alarms (every twelve months).

  • Each smoke alarm is correctly installed and is in working condition;
  • Each smoke alarm is tested according to manufacturer’s specification at least every twelve (12) months; and
  • The batteries in each smoke alarm are replaced.
  • Additionally, it is advised that the floorplan of the property is assessed for the correct number of smoke alarms and all smoke alarms are within their ten (10) year prescribed service life, are correctly cleaned and serviced and all necessary information is recorded on an ongoing basis.

➢ Electrical safety and electrical appliance (every two years).

  • All electrical appliances are in safe working order;
  • All electrical light sockets/switches/powerpoints to be deemed safe;
  • Electrical appliances, when due for replacement must have a specified efficient star rating.

➢ Pool compliance (every two years).

*We cannot secure Renter/s for your property until compliancy instructions have been received from you and implemented.

Rental Minimum Standards

Rental Providers will need to ensure that rental properties meet basic yet critical requirements relating to amenities and safety - such as window and door locks, functioning toilet, hot and cold water connections, functioning oven and cooktop, window coverings, heating etc.

Some of the rental minimum standards will require the assessment and opinion of a suitably qualified person.

The REIV have provided a Rental Minimum Standards Checklist - this will be completed inhouse at your investment property and we will raise any issues with you that do not comply seek your instructions.

*We cannot secure Renter/s for your property until Minimum Standards instructions have been received from you and implemented.

Property Disclosure Statement

New information must be disclosed to any new Renters, you will be required to complete the Property Disclosure Statement if we have a change of tenancy, or if you current tenancy requests this information.  To assist us in providing this information to your new Renters, some of the questions you will be required to answer are: 

  • Embedded network operator details (for example, if managed by an Owners Corporation some unit complexes have an agreement with providers and Renters can only use agreed providers for service connections eg Origin)
  • If the property has been the location of homicide or drug trafficking/manufacture.
  • If the property has required repairs due to mould/dampness.
  • Owner's intention to sell the property.

*We cannot secure Renter/s for your property until we receive the completed Property Disclosure Statement from you.

Discrimination safeguards (Rental Applications)

All rental applications will have an antidiscrimination statement and discrimination provisions have been strengthened.

Certain questions can no longer be present or need to be worded differently on Application Forms such as anything referring to:

  • Occupation
  • Gender questions
  • Relationship status (are you married, single parent etc)
  • Previous Rental Agreements (have you had a tenancy terminated, bond refund details etc)
  • Age of dependents
  • Nationality

Rental Bidding Ban

Rental properties will need to be advertised using a fixed price, not a price range.  The advertisement must display a fixed amount for example: $320 per week - or not at all.  Also a Rental Provider or Agent must not ask for or invite offers of rent higher than the advertised price, but they can accept a higher unprompted offer if made by a prospective Renter.

Rental Agreements

From 29 March 2021, the new Rental Agreement must be used for any new tenancies.

DURING A RENTAL AGREEMENT

Selling the property and compensating the Renter/s

In accordance with the Residential Tenancy Act implemented 29 March 2021 (screenshot below), your Renter/s will be compensated $30 or 50% of daily rent (whichever is greater) for every open for inspection held for the duration of their Rental Agreement and whilst the property is on the market for sale.  

Only open for inspections are compensated – no other appointments qualify for this compensation payment such as Building & Pest inspections, Valuations, Final Settlement Inspections etc.

This compensation payment will be calculated and paid to your Renter/s from the settlement funds once settlement occurs or if the property should be withdrawn from sale from your rental funds (depending on the situation) or as long as the Renter/s are residing in the property (whichever comes first).  If the Renter/s vacate prior to the sale, this compensation payment will need to be made from rental funds or if no rental funds available you will need to arrange direct payment to the Renter.

Modifications allowed by Renters during tenancies

Renters are able to make certain modifications to a rental property without seeking consent.  In some cases this will include being able to secure furniture to a wall or installing adhesive child safety locks on doors.  There will also be modifications where a Renter must ask consent, but a Rental Provider must not unreasonably refuse permission for example installing flyscreens.

Urgent Repairs

Existing definition will be expanded and the limit for Renters to authorise urgent repairs increased.  If a Rental Provider fails to bring a property up to the standard following the urgent repair request, VCAT can order that the rent be redirected into the Rental Special Account.

AT THE END OF A RENTAL AGREEMENT

No reason notice to vacate abolished

Rental providers will no longer be able to use 120 days 'no reason' notice to evict a Renter.  Rental Providers need to be more transparent about their reasons for wishing to end a tenancy.

Bond

Renters can now apply to Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) to have all or part of their bond released either with or without the Rental Provider's consent.

OTHER REFORMS

Family Violence Protections

  • Family violence related applications must be heard by VCAT within a specified time.
  • VCAT can terminate a Rental Agreement or require creation of a new Agreement.
  • Victim survivors cannot be listed on a Tenancy Database.

Pets

Renters will be able to keep a pet after seeking permission from their Rental Provider. 

  • Rental providers won’t be able to unreasonably refuse permission.
  • 14 days to apply for a VCAT order if a Rental Provider wants to refuse.
  • VCAT can consider reasonable grounds to exclude a pet.
  • Renters will need to repair any ‘pet- related’ damage.
  • Rental Providers cannot ask for an additional pet bond.

For Renters who already have pets

The new pet laws do not apply to pets that were already present in the rental property before the new laws commenced. After the new laws commence, Renters must request consent to bring a new pet into the property.

 

To help you understand the changes that have taken effect from 29 March 2021, the Consumer Affairs Victoria website has a dedicated ‘Renting laws are changing’ section.  This is updated progressively as further updates are rolled out.