When a renter or rental provider (landlord) breaks the law

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Anyone who has signed a rental agreement (lease) must comply with both the terms of that agreement and with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. This includes:

  • renters (tenants)
  • residents
  • site tenants
  • rental providers (landlords)
  • rooming house operators
  • park owners and operators
  • site owners.

If a renter or rental provider has not met a specific ‘duty’ under the Act, this is called a breach of duty. The other person can give them a breach of duty notice. This is a formal warning saying that the person has not met their obligations. If the person who breached their duty and received the notice does not fix the problem or start meeting their obligations, they can be taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), who will make a decision about what should happen. The person may be required to pay for any loss or damage caused by the breach.

If a renter or rental provider has not met all their obligations under their rental agreement, this is a breach of the agreement. In this case, the other person can not give them a breach of duty notice, but they can apply to VCAT for a compliance order.

On this page:

Other pages have information about renter rights and responsibilities, disputes and penalties.

Breach of duty notices for breaches of the Act

Breach of duty notices are used to tell someone they have not complied with certain terms and conditions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. The notice must be given in writing.

The notice must state:

  • which duty was breached (which rule or law was broken)
  • the loss or damage the breach has caused
  • that the breach must be fixed and costs must be paid, and that a similar breach cannot happen again
  • that if the person who gets the notice does not comply with it, the person who gave the notice can apply to VCAT for a compliance order and a compensation order.

Breach of duty notices for rental providers (landlords)

If a rental provider, park operator, site operator or site owner breaches the terms and conditions of Residential Tenancies Act, the renter, resident or site tenant should use one of these breach of duty notices:

After the rental provider receives the breach notice, they must fix the breach within a specific timeframe, depending on the breach. The rental provider may also have to compensate the renter.

Breach

Timeframe

The rental provider has not given the renter quiet enjoyment of the property (quiet enjoyment means their right to peace, comfort and privacy)

7 days

The premises are not suitable for occupation

14 days

The property is not maintained or in good condition

14 days

Replacement water, gas or electrical appliances, fittings or fixtures do not meet minimum efficiency standards

14 days

The rental provider has not provided window locks or deadlatches for all external doors

14 days

If you are a rental provider who receives a breach of duty notice but don’t think you have done anything wrong, you should try to resolve matters with the renter. If this doesn't work you can apply to VCAT.

Breach of duty notices for renters

If a renter, resident or site tenant breaches the terms and conditions of the Residential Tenancies Act, the rental provider, park operator, site operator or site owner should use one of these breach of duty notices:

After the renter receives the breach notice, they must fix the breach within a specific timeframe, depending on the breach. The renter may also have to compensate the rental provider.

Note: Please read the notice carefully to ensure it identifies the correct timeframe for the breach you are seeking a remedy for.

Breach

Timeframe

Not letting the rental provider or real estate agent enter the property to show a prospective buyer or lender after proper notice has been given.

3 days

Not providing access to someone who needs to value the property after proper notice has been given.

3 days

Not providing access to someone who has reasonable cause to believe that the renter has broken the law or breached their rental agreement after proper notice has been given.

3 days

Causing a nuisance

7 days

Interfering with the peace, comfort or privacy of neighbours.

7 days

Damage to the property or common areas

14 days

Not keeping the property reasonably clean

14 days

Installing fixtures or making changes to the property without the rental provider’s consent except for modifications that are allowed under the law

14 days

Not returning the property to the way it was before installing fixtures or making changes

14 days

Not giving the rental provider a key to any new door or window lock

14 days

Changing a lock without the rental provider’s consent (except in family violence situations)

14 days

Not letting the rental provider or agent enter the property for a general inspection if it has not been inspected within the last six months after proper notice has been given.

14 days

Not letting the rental provider or a someone acting on their behalf (such as a tradesperson) enter the property to carry out their duties under the rental agreement  after proper notice has been given.

14 days

If you are a renter who receives a breach of duty notice but don’t think you have done anything wrong, you should try to resolve matters with the rental provider. If this doesn't work, you should write down your objection and gather evidence to support your position. You can contact us for further information.

If the breach is not fixed or happens again

If the person who was given the breach of duty notice does not fix the breach or pay costs, the person who issued the notice can apply to VCAT. VCAT can make a compliance order and a compensation order.

If the breach happens three times, and a valid breach of duty notice was issued after the first two times, the person who issued the notice can give intention of notice to vacate (if they’re a renter) or notice to vacate (if they’re the rental provider).

Read about how to resolve renting disputes.

Breaking terms of the rental agreement (lease)

If a rental provider or renter breaks the terms of the rental agreement, they should try to negotiate with the other person to resolve the dispute. However, if you can’t agree about what should happen, either person can apply to VCAT.

Penalties

We can issue infringement notices to rental providers and their agents if we identify breaches of some sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. This will result in a penalty.

In very serious cases, instead of issuing an infringement the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria may apply to the Magistrates’ Court to order a person to pay a civil pecuniary penalty. The penalty amount will usually be higher than the fines for an infringement notice.

Forms you might need

To issue a breach of duty notice to a rental provider, a rooming house operator, a caravan park owner or a site owner, use one of these forms:

To issue a breach of duty notice to a renter or a resident of a rooming house or caravan park, use one of these forms:

Renting law reforms

Victoria introduced new language as part of reforms to renting laws in 2021.

  • 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 breaches of duty, read this section of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997:

  • Section 208 – Breach of duty notice.