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Residential Tenancies Act Reforms 2021

Mar 19, 2021

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New renting rules come into effect on 29 March 2021, so it’s time for every renter and rental provider (landlord) to understand the changes.

Whether you’re a renter or rental provider (landlord), the new rental rules will create a fairer, safer system for all Victorians.

More than 130 reforms are being introduced.

These clarify the rights and responsibilities of both renters and rental providers – from before you sign a rental agreement, until after the agreement ends – and apply to all types of tenancies, including private rentals, caravan and residential parks, and rooming houses.

The new laws include minimum rental property standards and allow renters to make simple modifications without seeking permission.

Rental providers benefit, too, from clearer accountabilities for renters, clearer obligations, and modern regulations and processes.

It is important that everyone is aware of and understands these laws. You can help us spread the word. This kit provides all the materials you need to share this information with your community and/or network. In doing so, you’ll be playing an important role in the creation of this new, fairer and safer rental system.

Thank you for your involvement.

Key messages

New renting rules come into effect on 29 March 2021.

These new rent rules will create a fairer, safer system for everyone.

These new rules have been shaped by multiple public consultation processes, the last of which received more than 700 submissions.

 We’re making renting easier with clearer rights and responsibilities for both renters and rental providers.

 These new rules will increase protections for renters, while ensuring rental providers can effectively manage their properties. There are also new standard agreements, condition reports and forms rental providers will need to ensure they're using by 29 March.

More than one in four people rent in Victoria, so it’s vitally important that they have a rental property that feels like a home.

The Victorian Government is working with renters and rental providers to ensure a smooth transition to the new rules.

Notable reforms include:

  • Renters can no longer be evicted for no reason – a valid reason is required, including: a sale, change of use, or if the owner is moving back in.
  • Rental minimum standards are changing, including renters’ rights around heating and door and window locks in the rental property.
  • Rental providers have a duty to ensure their rental property meets the rental minimum standards including basic standards of cleanliness, security and privacy. These are the things most people would reasonably expect in a rental property - and most already have them. These apply in all new rental agreements after 29 March 2021.
  • If a rental is not up to minimum standards, renters can request an urgent repair.
  • Some rental minimum standards have been delayed to give rental providers more time to prepare - these include standards for window coverings, electrical safety, and energy efficient heaters.
  • Rent can only be increased once a year.
  • It is unlawful to discriminate against renters based on their personal attributes, such as age, race, religion or disability.
  • Pets cannot be unreasonably refused, although renters must still ask for permission.
  • A renter can be evicted if they are violent or threatening towards a rental provider, agent or neighbour.
  • Renters experiencing family violence will be able to change or terminate their rental agreement and not be held liable for damages in some circumstances, by applying to VCAT.
  • More things are now considered an urgent repair, such as a broken cooling appliance, a functioning smoke alarm, pest infestation, mould and meeting the rental minimum standards.
  • Rental providers are responsible for conducting gas and electricity checks every two years for all new rental agreements after 29 March 2021.
  • There is a staged requirement for rented properties to have an energy efficient heater so renters can stay warm without worrying about their electricity bills.

Helping to make a rental property feel like a home

  • Renters can make simple modifications without seeking permission, such as attaching child safety devices or replacing curtains.
  • Other modifications that a rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse include allowing the planting of a vegetable or herb garden, painting, securing gates and installing security systems and flyscreens at the renter's own cost.

Increasing accountability and benefits for renters and rental providers

  • New processes are available so that a renter can seek the return of their bond at the end of the rental agreement without the rental provider’s agreement.
  • If the rental property isn't structurally sound, renters can get out of the rental agreement.
  • Rental providers cannot ask for or accept more than one month’s rent as a bond, or require renters to pay more than one month’s rent in advance, for properties with a rent of $900 per week or less.
  • When a renter pays back overdue rent within 14 days, any notice to vacate issued by the rental provider for that overdue rent is invalidated (the first four times this happens in a year).
  • Rental providers or their agents cannot request inappropriate information in a rental application – for example, the renter’s bond history.
  • Rental providers cannot encourage someone to enter a rental agreement by misleading or deceptive conduct or statements, and a rental property can only be offered at a fixed price.

The full list of rental reforms is available at consumer.vic.gov.au/rentrules

For any other information on this, please feel free to contact our friendly team on 59863000