Note: the purpose of this page is to provide community and advocacy organisations with an English-language version of the equivalent pages we provide in our Other languages section. For our full information on renting, view our Renting section.
You have rights and responsibilities when renting a property. This page gives you an introduction to renting and will help you find more information if you need it.
Victoria made significant changes to renting laws in 2021. Read about the new rules.
On this page:
Deciding whether the property is right for you
When you agree with someone to rent their property to live in, you are entering a residential rental agreement. This is a legal document, and it can take time to end the agreement, so you need to be confident that the property is right for you.
Before you enter into a rental agreement, there is certain information a rental provider (landlord) must tell you. These are called mandatory disclosures. This includes the following:
- if the rental provider has engaged an agent to sell the property, or a contract of sale for the property has been prepared.
- if they are the owner of the property or, if not, if they have a right to rent the property.
- if the rental property or common property has been the location of a homicide in the last 5 years.
- if the rental property has any asbestos in the property.
For more information about mandatory disclosure requirements see Knowing your rights when signing an agreement.
Discrimination by rental providers
In Victoria, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone in relation to certain personal attributes. This means that rental providers and real estate agents cannot refuse you accommodation or discriminate against you during your tenancy on the basis of personal attributes protected by law.
It is against the law for a rental provider or their agent to treat you unfavourably or discriminate against you because of these personal attributes when you are applying for a rental property, occupying a rental property or leaving a rental property.
Rental providers are required to give you information about discrimination every time you apply for a rental property as part of the rental applications form.
For more information about discrimination in renting, see Unlawful discrimination in renting.
Questions a rental provider cannot ask you
If you are applying for a rental property, a rental provider cannot ask you:
- whether you have been in a dispute with a rental provider (or other housing provider) previously
- whether you have ever had a claim on your bond
- for a credit or bank statement containing all your daily transactions - a rental provider can ask for a statement, but you can remove some transactions to protect your privacy
- any information about to a protected attribute under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, unless the reason that the information is required is provided in writing.
Sometimes rental providers will get this information from other sources. But they cannot ask you for the information when you are applying for the property.
Beginning a rental agreement
When you agree with someone to rent their property to live in, you are entering a residential rental agreement (sometimes known as a lease or tenancy agreement).
The agreement can be written or verbal, but it is better to have the agreement in writing.
Rental agreements are a contract between you and the rental provider. They state:
You must use the ‘prescribed form’ when entering into a written rental agreement. A prescribed form is defined by Victorian rental law. We recommend using .
For fixed-term agreements of five years or less, we recommend using our official form, Form 1 (Word, 731KB).
For fixed-term agreements longer than 5 years, we recommend using our official form, Form 2 (Word, 641KB).
The renter or rental provider can add conditions or rules to the rental agreement, as long as they comply with the Residential Tenancies Act.
For example, a rental provider might include a rule about no smoking inside the property. Or, a renter might ask to include a rule that says all gas appliances must be serviced every two years.
You should only sign an agreement if you understand and agree with all the rules and conditions of a rental agreement, as well as your rights and responsibilities as a renter.
If there is something you don’t understand, you can contact us to have it explained.
Before moving in
Before you move in, your rental provider or agent must provide you with:
- a copy of your rental agreement
- a set of keys for each renter who signed the agreement
- a condition report (if they require you to pay a bond)
- contact details in case you need urgent repairs.
You should contact the water, electricity, gas and telephone companies you plan to use and have those services connected by the time you move in. It is your responsibility to organise these services and pay the bills unless your agreement says otherwise.
For more information, see Setting up utilities and services.
You can also find more information in our residential rental agreement forms.
Minimum standards for a rental property
Your rental provider must make sure the property is maintained according to rental minimum standards. This includes making sure:
- the property has no mould, pests or vermin
- existing appliances like ovens and stoves are in working order
- there is a safe, working heater
- there is a reasonable supply of hot water to the kitchen and bathroom
- the property’s structure is safe and weatherproof.
If the rental property does not meet the minimum standards, you can end the rental agreement before you move in. You can also request an urgent repair to make the rental property meet the minimum standards at any time after you move in.
Note: this only applies to new rental agreements signed from 29 March 2021. If your rental agreement was signed before this date, you can find more information on our Transition to new renting laws page.
For more information about minimum standards, see Minimum standards for rental properties.
Paying a bond
Most rental providers will ask you to pay a bond before you move in so there is money to cover any damage to the property you might cause.
If you don’t cause any damage, you will get your bond back when you move out.
If you do cause damage, the rental provider can use part or all of the bond to pay to fix the damage after you move out.
Bond money is held by the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA), an independent organisation, until your agreement ends. The rental provider doesn’t have access to the money unless they need it after you move out.
If your rental provider takes a bond, they must:
- lodge it with the RTBA
- give you a completed bond lodgement form to sign
- prepare a condition report which records the general condition of the property
You will get a receipt from the RTBA showing that your bond was lodged. Make sure you keep your bond receipt safe. Contact the RTBA if you don't receive a bond receipt within 15 days of payment.
A condition report records the state of the property when you move in.
It should state if there are any existing problems with the property, such as anything that is broken or damaged.
When you move out, the condition report is used to check if you caused damage to the property (apart from the normal minor deterioration that happens from ordinary, everyday use, which is known as reasonable wear and tear).
Your rental provider or agent must give you 2 signed copies (or one electronic copy) of the condition report before you move in. When you are given the condition report, you should:
- Check the property is safe and tell your rental provider or agent about any safety risks (like broken pool fencing or electrical problems).
- Fill in both copies of the report. Note down any existing damage like cracks, marks on the walls, or broken handles. You can also note if you disagree with what your rental provider or agent has written in the report.
- Take photos that show the condition of items, fixtures and fittings.
- Return one signed copy of the condition report to your rental provider or agent within 3 days of moving in.
- Keep the other copy and put it somewhere safe. You may need it when you are moving out so that you can get your bond back.
During a rental agreement
You have certain rights and responsibilities during your time in the rental property.
- Pay your rent on time. You are entitled to receive a receipt for each rent payment.
- Keep the property reasonably clean. If you don't, or if you damage the property, you may not get the full bond back when you move out.
- Respect your neighbours' peace and privacy, and make sure your visitors do the same.
- Tell your rental provider or agent about any repairs that need to be done
- You can make small changes to the property like putting up hooks for pictures. But you must not renovate, alter or redecorate the property without the rental provider’s consent.
Your rental provider or agent has the right to enter the property, but they must give you at least 24 hours' notice in writing and tell you why they need to enter.
There is a list of valid reasons a rental provider or agent can enter the property. They can also enter the property at an agreed date and time. Rental providers or agents can only conduct inspections of the property once every 6 months, and can’t do the first inspection during the first 3 months that you live there.
You have the right to make some modifications to your rental property without needing to get your rental provider’s consent first. This includes:
- Installing picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets on surfaces other than exposed brick or concrete walls.
- Installing water efficient shower heads, provided the original shower head is retained.
- Installing blind or cord anchors.
There are also other, more substantial modifications which require the rental provider’s agreement however, they must not unreasonably refuse to provide their consent. A full list of these modifications can be found on Renters making changes to a property.
If you have made modifications, you will need to return the property to the condition it was in prior to your rental agreement, unless otherwise agreed with your rental provider.
For more information regarding modifications, including when a rental provider has the right to refuse consent, see Renters making changes to a property.
You have the right to get repairs done in the property when things break or get damaged. If you did not cause the damage (for example, if your heater breaks down) you will not have to pay. If you caused the damage, you may have to pay for the repairs.
Your rental provider is not allowed to end your rental agreement because you asked for repairs.
Repairs can be urgent or non-urgent. Urgent repairs are ones that need to be done to make sure the property is safe to live in. This includes things like gas leaks, broken hot water systems or damaged pool fencing.
For more information, see Repairs in rental properties.
If you need an urgent repair
- Tell your rental provider or agent in writing and they must get it fixed immediately. It’s a good idea to put your request in writing, even if you’ve contacted them or the estate agent by phone first.
- If they do not get the repair fixed quickly, you can pay up to $2500 to get the repairs done yourself.
- Make sure you keep all receipts for the work, and copies of your written requests for the repairs.
- Ask the rental provider or agent to pay you back for the cost of the repairs using this form: Notice to Landlord of rented premises (Word, 573KB). They must pay you back within 7 days of receiving the form.
- If you can’t afford to pay for the urgent repairs, the cost of the repairs is more than $2500 or the rental provider refuses to pay, call us for advice.
If you are unsure whether an urgent repair is needed, read the full list of urgent repairs.
A repair is non-urgent if you can continue to safely live in the property. Non-urgent repairs include things like a broken cupboard or dishwasher. Your rental provider must still fix non-urgent within 14 days.
If you need a non-urgent repair:
- Ask your rental provider or agent in writing to make the repair. You can send an email or a letter or use this form: Notice to Landlord of rented premises (Word, 573KB)
- Keep a copy of all letters, emails, text messages, forms and reports, so that if there is a problem or dispute, you have proof of all your actions and requests.
- Call us if the rental provider or agent has not made the repairs within 14 days of receiving the request or apply to VCAT to request the repair.
Renewing an agreement
When your rental agreement ends, you don’t always have to move out. If you want to stay in the property, you should contact your rental provider or agent to see if you can sign a new agreement or move onto a month to month agreement. Read more about Renewing a rental agreement (lease).
Ending an agreement
A rental agreement can end for several reasons. Some common reasons are:
- the renter has decided to move out
- the agreement has reached its end date
- the rental provider wants to move in, sell the property or do major repairs
- the renter has stopped paying rent, is putting others in danger, has badly damaged the property or is breaking the rules of the agreement.
For more information on the reasons rental agreements can end, view Renters giving notice or Immediate notice for violence, dangerous behaviour and serious damage.
If you want to end your agreement
When you want to move out of a rented property, you must give your rental provider the correct amount of notice and leave the property in a clean condition.
- Check with us to find out how much notice you must give. This will vary depending on your situation.
- Tell your rental provider or agent in writing when you plan to leave, either by email or by letter.
- Pay any outstanding rent and bills.
- Contact your rental provider or agent about getting your bond back
- Clean the property and take all your belongings with you.
- Keep the condition report in case of problems getting the bond back.
- Leave a contact address and phone number with your rental provider or agent.
Getting the bond back
Rental providers will conduct a final inspection and use the condition report to compare any changes to the property. They will tell you if they think there is a good reason for them to claim some of the bond.
Do not sign the bond claim form if you disagree with how much of the bond the rental provider is claiming. Contact us for free advice.
Never sign a blank bond claim form.
Ending an agreement early (breaking a lease)
If you want to move out of a rental property before its end date, you may have to pay costs so the rental provider doesn’t lose money.
You may also have to keep paying rent after you move out, if the rental provider can’t find someone to move in straight away.
However, the costs you have to pay must be reasonable, and the rental provider must do everything they can to find new renters. Reasonable costs means costs that most people would think are fair. The law doesn’t define exactly what reasonable costs are, so if people can’t agree what is reasonable, they can apply to VCAT to make the decision for them.
Read more about ending an agreement early.
Transferring a rental agreement
Instead of ending a rental agreement early and having to pay costs, you might be able to transfer an agreement to others.
If you do this, you may still have to pay transfer fees, however, these must be reasonable fees for the amount of work involved. Read more about Transferring a rental agreement.
Being asked to move out (receiving a notice to vacate)
Rental providers can ask you to leave the property, but only for a good reason. For example:
- the rental agreement has ended
- the property has become unfit for people to live in
- you owe at least 14 days rent.
A rental provider cannot give a renter a notice to vacate for doing something, or saying they will do something, they are legally entitled to do as a renter.
For example, a rental provider cannot give a renter notice to vacate for:
- requesting repairs
- asking to have a pet
- challenging a rent increase.
However, there are other reasons that the rental provider may wish to end the rental agreement. For all the reasons a rental provider can ask you to move out, and how much notice they must give you, view Notice to vacate in rental properties.
Challenging a notice to vacate
If you think you were not correctly given notice to vacate, or if you think the reason your rental provider has given is untrue or unfair, you can challenge the notice. Contact us for more information.
Evictions (receiving a possession order)
If you are being evicted and need help, contact us for free advice.
Important things to remember
- Do not sign anything unless you understand what it means.
- Never sign a blank form, even if it looks official.
- Keep a copy of anything you sign.
- Keep copies of all communication with your rental provider or agent.
- Ask for a receipt every time you have to pay for something.
- Keep your bond receipt and any other receipts for rent or repairs in a safe place.
Contact us to get free advice if you have a renting problem or question.