Updated: Jul 21, 2021
Photo Courtesy: Sidekix Media collected from Unsplash
Since 29 March 2021, Victoria’s rental laws have undergone some major changes. More than 130 changes have been incorporated into the existing laws. If you are renting a property now in Victoria, the following are the provisions that can be relevant to your agreement-
1. Rent Increases-
For any rental agreements that had been entered into since 19 June 2019, rent increases are allowed only once every 12 months. After 29 March 2021, the regulation stipulated that every new lease agreements must specifically explain the method by which the rent increase has been calculated. If your lease agreement allows a rent increase during its fixed term, it must specify how that will be calculated. If the increase is a fixed amount, the increase must not be greater than the amount set out in the agreement.
2. Rental Payment Method-
The rental provider (landlord) or his agent must give you at least one option to pay your rent that will not cost you anything extra. They must also give you the option to pay your rent by Centrepay or electronic funds transfer. If the method, the rental provider has chosen, is going to cost you extra fees, he/she must notify you in advance. However, you will have the option not to agree with such an arrangement.
3. Modification to the Property-
You can make some simple and temporary modifications to the rental property without seeking permission from the rental provider, such as attaching child safety devices or replacing curtains. Where consent is required for the modification, it cannot be unreasonably refused. There are additional limitations if the property has heritage protection. If the rental provider does not give consent, you can go to the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal (VCAT).
However, renters are responsible for restoring the rental property to its original condition at the end of the tenancy, save for fair wear and tear. You do not have to restore it if you and your rental provider agree that the modifications can remain after you leave.
Following are the modifications where you will still need the consent, but the rental provider can not unreasonably refuse consent -
Picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets or in-wall anchoring devices only if the walls are exposed brick or concrete;
Hardware-mounted child-safety gates if the walls are exposed brick or concrete;
Draught-proofing in homes, where there are no unflued gas heaters;
A security system installed by a qualified installer, provided you keep the invoice, and the privacy of your neighbours is not impacted;
A secure letterbox;
Flyscreen on doors or windows;
Changes to secure external gates, provided you don’t live in a multi-unit dwelling;
Herb or vegetable garden;
A rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse reasonable modifications needed by the renter (under section 55 of the Equal Opportunity Act) that have been prescribed by an occupational therapist or a health practitioner.
4. Urgent Repairs-
Under the new laws, the following new items have been added to the existing list of urgent repairs:
air conditioning repairs not complying with the new minimum standards (if the renter moved in after March 28, 2021),
mould and damp repairs,
a pest infestation, and
failure or breakdown of safety devices, such as a smoke detector.
Renters must give written notice of any damage or repair requirements as soon as practicable. This rule applies to all repairs, urgent or not. If the renter gets an urgent repair done, after notifying the rental provider, they must use a qualified tradesperson. In such cases, renters can ask for reimbursement of up to $2500 (including GST) for the repair.
The rental provider must repay the repair amount to the renter within 7 days after receiving the written notice of the completed repairs. If the renter does not receive the reimbursement, he/she can apply to VCAT. The matter will be listed for hearing within 5 days.
5. Home Safety-
The new law has assigned additional safety duties to the rental provider and renter to ensure a high standard of home safety.
The rental provider must ensure the following:
gas and electricity safety checks are carried out every 2 years, keep records of those and give the renter a copy of the latest check on written request;
smoke alarms are correctly installed and working, batteries are in working order and the alarms are tested every 12 months. If a smoke alarm does not work, it must be repaired immediately. At the start of the agreement, the rental provider must give the renter written information about not interfering with the smoke alarm;
the swimming pool safety barrier on the property is installed and in working order, and if not must be fixed as an urgent repair,
If the property is in a bushfire-prone area and requires a water tank for safety, the tank and its connections are in good repair. The tank must be full and clean at the start of the rental agreement.
On the other hand, the renter must:
give the rental provider an immediate written notice if a smoke alarm is not working or a swimming pool safety barrier is not in working order;
not erect a temporary swimming pool without the permission of the rental provider, and must get necessary approvals before putting up the pool;
6. Compensation for a home inspection-
The new law provides that when a property is up for sale, the rental provider must give the renter a new ‘notice of intention to sell’ at least 14 days before the inspection is proposed. After that period the rental provider or agents can organise an open house inspection for the prospective buyer with at least 48 hours’ further notice to the renter. They must also make reasonable efforts to agree on the day and times for entry.
After this, the renter is entitled to $30 or a half day’s rent, whichever is greater, in compensation for each sales inspection. Unless the renter agrees, these inspections are limited to twice a week and for no longer than one hour each.
If you need more information about the recent change in rental laws in Victoria or you need to find a lawyer who can help you with your rental dispute, please contact us on www.lawcircuit.com.au or call us at 0418361798 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will help you to find the best legal services in Melbourne to solve your problems. We are here to make your legal journey easier.