On March 29th, 2021, the Victorian Government enacted a raft of new rental regulations, making over 130 changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, 1997. The changes are intended to set minimum standards for the condition of rental properties and enhance the rights of tenants.
The changes are designed to take in the entire length of the tenant/landlord relationship, from the first inspection to the return of the bond after the end of the tenancy. Here is an overview of the information you need to know – at every stage.
BEFORE THE TENANT HAS THE KEYS
The practice of inviting rental bids or soliciting higher offers than the advertised price is now forbidden in Victoria. This means the advertised price and the ‘going rate’ are the same. In addition, 14 minimum standards have been introduced, including the requirements for a:
- working toilet and door locks
- three-star shower head
- vermin-proof rubbish bin
- working stove
- food preparation area and sink in the kitchen.
Landlords must also ensure tenancies:
- are free of mould
- have appropriate lighting and ventilation
- are energy efficient
- have appropriate gas and electrical safety checks conducted (for tenancies starting on or after 29th March 2021).
ONCE INSIDE THE FRONT DOOR
Before these changes, some landlords and property managers refused to permit minor modifications to rental properties by tenants. Under the new changes, tenants can make modifications unless there is a “reasonable reason” to prevent them from:
- installing picture hooks, shelves, and child-safety devices without receiving consent from their landlords
- painting the premises, provided the property is returned to the previous colour at the end of the tenancy
- making changes to outdoor areas by adding a herb garden
- installing additional locks, including on the letterbox
- replacing the doorbell with a wireless camera model
EVICTION RULE CHANGES
There has been a major change to the accepted valid reasons for eviction. Previously, a landlord could state “no specific reason” when evicting a tenant. This is no longer the case. Acceptable reasons for eviction now include selling the property, the owner moving back into the property, and building demolition for development.
END OF TENANCY – RETURN OF THE BOND
To limit drawn-out disputes over bond returns, a departing tenant can make an application to the Rental Tenancies Bond Authority upon leaving their property. A landlord only has 14 days in which to make a claim on that bond for compensation, or the bond will be repaid in full to the tenant.
A FINAL NOTE
Landlords in Victoria need to familiarise themselves with the changes, particularly as they may need to make upgrades to their properties. These upgrades should also be considered when budgeting for the maintenance of the properties. A full explanation of the changes to the Victorian rental laws is available here.
WITH YOU ALL THE WAY
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