Unlawful discrimination in renting

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In Victoria, it is against the law to stop somebody from renting a property because of certain personal characteristics, including:

  • age
  • carer status, family responsibilities, parental status
  • disability
  • employment
  • gender identity, lawful sexual activity, sexual orientation
  • marital status
  • physical features
  • pregnancy, breastfeeding
  • race (including colour, nationality, ethnicity and ethnic origin)
  • religious belief or activity
  • sex.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has a full list of ‘protected characteristics'.

Sexual harassment is also against the law.

If you have unsuccessfully applied to rent a property, or if you have been asked to leave a property, and you believe the rental provider, agent or operator is discriminating against you, you can:

Statement of Information for Applicants

Rental providers, rooming house operators, caravan park owners, caravan owners and residential park owners must provide a statement of information on discrimination to all applicants as part of the rental application. Rental providers must use the ‘prescribed form’ to give the statement of information. A prescribed form is defined by Victorian rental law. We recommend using the relevant official form on Forms and publications.

Children and renting

A rental provider (landlord) or agent cannot refuse to rent out premises to someone because they will have a child living with them. For this law, children are defined as being under the age of 16. The only reasons a rental provider can refuse to rent their property to someone with children is if the property is:

  • the rental provider's main residence
  • unsuitable for children.

If a person has been told that a property is unsuitable for children but disagrees, they can apply to VCAT to make a decision.

Renters with a disability

Rental providers and agents must not discriminate against prospective renters who have a disability or people who acquire a disability during the rental agreement (lease).

If changes need to be made to the rental property to help a renter access and move around it, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) may pay for modifications. The renter must ask the rental provider to agree to any changes before they start making any modifications. The request should be in writing. Rental providers should not refuse to make reasonable changes to the property. See more information about renters installing fixtures and altering the rental property.

Assistance dogs

People who have assistance dogs when they apply for a rental property or who get one during their rental agreement (lease) cannot be discriminated against.

An assistance dog is trained to help alleviate the effects of a person’s disability.

A renter can make a complaint to VEOHRC if they think they have been:

  • refused a rental property or room because of their assistance dog
  • asked to remove their assistance dog from a rental property or room
  • asked to vacate their rental property or room because of their assistance dog
  • asked to pay an extra charge because of the assistance dog.

Pets and renting

It is not unlawful discrimination if a rental provider doesn’t rent a property to someone with a pet. However, there are laws that say that a rental provider can’t say no to a renter having a pet unless they have a good reason. Read more about pets in a rental property.

People who haven’t rented before

It might be hard for people to find a property if they have never rented before. However, this is not unlawful discrimination. First-time renters are more likely to be successful if they include everything the rental provider or agent needs to know about them when they prepare an application.

Renting law reforms

Victoria made significant changes to renting laws in 2021.

Some of the major changes to laws about discrimination in renting include:

  • protections outlined in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 are now incorporated renting law
  • a notice to vacate is not valid where giving the notice constitutes direct discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

Some language also changed:

  • Landlords are now called rental providers
  • Tenants are now called renters
  • Leases are now called rental agreements.

You can read about these and other changes in a summary of the reforms or in detailed fact sheets and guides.

Sections of the Act

If you want to know what the law says about unlawful discrimination in renting, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:

  • Sections 29, 30, 30A – Discrimination in relation to residential rental agreements
  • Sections 81 – Assignment and sub-letting
  • Sections 94E, 94F – Discrimination in relation to residency rights (rooming houses)
  • Section 115 – Modifications (rooming houses)
  • Sections 145A, 145B – Discrimination in relation to residency rights (caravan parks)
  • Sections 206JB, 206JC – Discrimination in relation to site agreements
  • Section 206ZMB – Modifications (Part 4A site agreements)
  • Sections 206ZZD, 206ZZE – Assignment and sub-letting site agreements (Part 4A site agreements)
  • Section 210AA – Application to VCAT for compensation for discrimination

See also Division 5 of Part 4 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.