Article by Davina Deluao
Victoria's rental market is set to be completely transformed with a number of new rules being implemented that will impact both landlords and tenants. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 aimed to respond to extensive community feedback regarding the renting system and introduced around 130 or so reforms. The updated Victorian renting laws were initially organised to take place in July 2020 but were delayed for an indefinite period due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Consumer Affairs Victoria confirmed that the changes will come into effect on 29 March 2021 along with consultation around regulations and guidelines. This article will outline a few of the key 2021 renting changes that investors will have to adhere to when advertising and leasing properties.
When it comes to rental bonds, there are new limits with how much the landlords can charge depending on the weekly rent amount. Tenants are able to receive their bond back quicker and can apply for it to be returned up to two weeks before the tenancy ends. Renters are also allowed to apply for bond release without the landlord’s consent and if after two weeks no concerns have been brought up, their bond will be reimbursed. The rental price is also affected with landlords only being able to increase the rent once a year and rental bidding being banned.
The Victorian renting laws focus on ensuring that tenants are being regularly informed and updated about the property by landlords. It also highlights the need for owners to ensure the place meets the minimum rental standards particularly when it comes to safety and privacy. An important addition is allowing tenancy to be terminated for victims of family and personal violence. There are more protections for renters specifically when presenting personal information for the rental application and dealing with unlawful discrimination. For those with pets, rental providers are no longer able to refuse without reasonable grounds.
Tenants are now able to make minor modifications without requiring the landlord’s permission. These include installing security measures or hanging pictures on the wall to help renters add a personal touch and feel at home. The 2021 renting changes entitle occupants to urgent repairs and replacements for property damages. Landlords must pay back the reasonable cost of the repairs within a week of being notified.
There is greater security with rental providers needing to have a valid reason before terminating the contract and asking tenants to move out. Landlords are able to issue a notice to vacate if renters have made threats towards them, endangered the safety of others or intentionally caused damage to the property. The Victorian renting laws also permit long-term lease agreements between tenants and owners that go beyond five years. For fixed-term agreements that are under five years, landlords can only ask to vacate after the first term has ended. They must also hold onto lost property for two weeks so tenants can have enough time to claim them.
With a handful of regulations being modified and carried out, there may be a lot to remember and take note of. It is worth checking out the Consumer Affairs Victoria website for further information and a detailed timeline of the implementation process.
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