Leases and bonds - information for property managers

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International students affected by the coronavirus travel ban - February/March 2020

This information is for property managers whose student tenants are unable to travel to Victoria. These students may need to either:

  • delay occupation of their rental accommodation, or
  • cancel it altogether.

There is related information for students on our International students page.

If the student has signed a lease

If the student asks to delay occupation or to cancel the rental arrangement (effectively terminating the lease), you can do these things by mutual agreement. Make sure you put this in writing.

If a student who cancels before moving in has paid any rent in advance, they may ask for a refund or partial refund. If they paid a bond, you must instruct the RTBA to release it back to the student.

If you and the student cannot reach an agreement, either you or they can apply to VCAT to terminate the lease due to severe hardship.

If the student paid a deposit or bond, but has not signed a lease

This may be considered a verbal lease. You can change or cancel it by mutual agreement. Make sure you put this in writing.

If a student who cancels before moving in has paid any rent in advance, they may ask for a refund or partial refund. If they paid a bond, you must instruct the RTBA to release it back to the student.

If you and the student cannot reach an agreement, either you or they can apply to VCAT to terminate the lease due to severe hardship.

If the student has not signed a rental agreement or paid any money

The student can cancel the arrangement by notifying you. They are not required to pay any money. 

Residential tenancy agreements (leases)

We provide the following prescribed forms for residential tenancy agreements:

Long-term leases must be in writing, using either Form 1 or 2. For more information, view our Long-term leases section.

Special conditions may be added to the prescribed agreements but only if they do not exclude, restrict or modify tenants’ and landlords’ rights and obligations, as set out in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

You must give a copy of the lease - with the details of the proposed tenancy included - to the tenant before it is signed. Once both the tenant and landlord sign it, you must give a copy of the signed document to the tenant within 14 days.

Before the tenant moves in, you must give them:

Fees 

You must not charge tenants fees for:

  • beginning, continuing or renewing a tenancy agreement
  • preparing a lease
  • supplying keys and security devices to each tenant named on the lease
  • issuing a rent card for rent payment
  • the establishment or ongoing use of direct debit facilities.

Bonds

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, you must lodge residential tenancy bonds (also called rental bonds or security deposits) with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA). Generally, the maximum amount allowable for a residential tenancies bond is one month's rent. For more information on bond amounts in short-term and long-term leases, view our Lodging the bond page.

Property managers should lodge bonds electronically through the RTBA Online website. Learn how with our guide to lodging a bond for property managers

In cases where a tenant does not have an email address or is unable to complete an electronic transaction, you can generate a bond lodgement paper form through RTBA Online. You must submit the lodgement and bond payment to the RTBA within 10 business days of receiving the bond from the tenant.

When lodging electronically, the bond money is debited from the nominated agency bank account. The RTBA is only authorised to withdraw funds when the estate agent lodges a bond application and all tenants have agreed. These withdrawn funds are automatically deposited into a bank account held by the RTBA and held in trust by the RTBA until a bond claim is submitted. 

The RTBA accepts:

  • direct debits from the bank account registered on the property manager/landlord’s RTBA Online account (electronic)
  • bond cheques and money orders made payable either to you or the RTBA (paper form).

The RTBA cannot accept bonds paid in cash.

Ending a lease

Landlords and tenants can mutually agree in writing to end a fixed-term lease at any time before the lease’s end date.

For information on when a landlord can give the tenant a written notice to vacate, view our Landlord giving notice to vacate page.

If the tenant wants to end the lease, they must give 28 days’ notice of their intention to vacate, with the 28th day falling on or after the lease’s end date. If they are on a month-by-month agreement, the tenant can give this notice at any time.

If a tenant wants to end a lease earlier than the required notice period (break the lease), they can be charged re-letting fees, re-advertising fees and rent lost while the premises are vacant. You can find more information on our Tenant giving notice of intention to vacate page.

For information on bond claim processes at the end of a tenancy, view our Releasing or claiming the bond page.

Retail, commercial and industrial leases

We do not have jurisdiction to deal with retail, commercial or industrial lease disputes. Our jurisdiction covers only residential leases.

Please seek legal advice or contact the Office of the Victorian Small Business Commissioner, which provides information and dispute resolution services for retail tenants. For more information, visit the Retail tenants and landlords page on the Victorian Small Business Commissioner website.

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