More than one in four Victorians rent their home, a number that is increasing as it becomes more difficult for many people to buy property.
The Victorian Government has announced an initial set of reforms that take account of the changing nature of renting, focused particularly on giving tenants a sense of security and support.
Some of the key reforms include:
- a crackdown on rental bidding: agents will have to advertise properties using a single price and, along with landlords, will not be able to solicit rental bids from prospective tenants
- removing the 120-day ‘no specified reason’ notice to vacate: landlords will have to give a reason to end a tenancy
- allowing tenants to more easily keep pets: tenants will have the right to keep pets provided they get the landlord’s written consent first. The landlord will only be able to refuse consent if it is reasonable to do so
- faster tenant reimbursement for urgent repairs: when a tenant is out of pocket for undertaking urgent repairs, landlords will have to reimburse them within seven days, instead of the current 14 days
- automatic bond repayments within 14 days: either party to a tenancy will be able to apply for all or part of the bond without the other party’s agreement. Disputes must be lodged within 14 days; if no dispute is raised, the bond will automatically be released to the applicant
- allowing tenants to more easily make minor modifications to the property: a landlord will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent if a tenant asks to make minor modifications. Examples of minor modifications include installing picture hooks, air conditioning or reasonable security measures.
The other reforms are:
- capping rent increases to once every 12 months instead of every six months
- limiting the use of ‘end of fixed term’ notices to vacate; this will require landlords to provide reasons for terminating a tenancy
- an updated bond cap and up-front rent cap for most properties; the only properties to be excluded are high-value properties that are rented out at more than twice the median weekly rent, or where the landlord has obtained permission to charge a higher bond
- earlier release of bond money by agreement before the end of a tenancy, where the parties have agreed to a division of the bond
- prohibiting false, misleading or deceptive representations by landlords prior to a tenancy
- requiring pre-contractual disclosure by landlords of the known presence of asbestos in premises, and other important information (such as any proposal to sell the property)
- a new Commissioner for Residential Tenancies
- a landlord and estate agent blacklist.
Consumer Affairs Victoria received more than 4,800 public comments from individuals and organisations, as part of the consultation process that has led to these reforms.
The Government is carefully considering a wider set of reforms, to be released over the next year.
For more information about the reforms, visit the Rent Fair Victoria website.