Review of Victoria’s rental laws now underway

Victoria’s rental laws could soon get a shake up as Victorians are being asked their views on topics such as the rights of landlords to enter rented premises and the rules for having pets in a rental property.

Public consultant is currently underway on the third in a series of issues papers as part of the Victorian Government’s review of the state’s rental laws.

Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants considers how the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act) sets boundaries around what tenants and landlords can and cannot do throughout the tenancy relationship.

There are a number of issues to be addressed which will include all aspects of letting out a property to tenants such as the first application and screening process all the way to tenants moving in to the rental property as well as compensation for breaking a lease early.

According to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria Simon Cohen, the review is asking for people’s views on important matters such as tenants' rights to keep pets and to sub-let a property, tenant privacy and notices to end tenancies.

“The review forms part of the Victorian Government’s Plan for Fairer Safer Housing, and aims to ensure rental laws strike a fair balance between the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords across all forms of rental accommodation,” Mr Cohen said.

“We want to hear people’s views on the issues raised by landlords and tenants, as they exercise their rights and responsibilities during the various stages of a tenancy.

Victorians are able to join in with discussions through the Fairer Safer Housing website and they will also be able to take part in polls and blogs and share any relevant stories with others.

Not only does the Victorian Government want to hear from renters, they also want to hear from landlords about their opinions or advice on all these topics from right across the state.

All the feedback that is received on these issues will showcase how the needs and preferences of landlords and tenants in Victoria have changed since the legislation first came into effect nearly 20 years ago. It will also help to highlight any areas that should be given priority for reform.

Today more Victorians are renting property for longer, whilst the rental population has also become much more diverse. The number of property managers and landlords have also increased.

By reviewing Victoria’s rental laws, this will ensure a modern and dynamic rental market, allowing rental tenants to feel safe and secure, as well as meet both the current and future needed and expectations of tenants and landlords.

During the first half of this year, there will be three more issues papers that will be released.

This paper focuses on the following themes:
  • Security of tenure
  • Bonds, rent and other charges
  • Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
  • Dispute resolution
  • Property conditions and standards, and
  • Alternative forms of tenure

Issues for public consultation include:

  • The tenancy application process and appropriate screening practices.
  • Information that should be disclosed to a tenant at the start of a tenancy.
  • Digital technology and the form and service of documents and notices.
  • The process to be followed when a landlord or tenant breaches a duty under the Act.
  • Enforcing additional terms in the tenancy agreement, including rules about pets.
  • Balancing the right of tenants to quiet enjoyment and the right of landlords to enter premises, particularly where the premises are being sold.
  • Balancing the interests of landlords and tenants in respect of sub-letting and lease assignments.
  • Reasons a landlord or tenant can terminate a lease, and rules around compensation for lease breaking.
  • What arrangements should apply to goods left behind by a tenant at the end of a tenancy.
  • Increasing protections for tenants experiencing family violence.
  • The conduct of agents acting on behalf of landlords.
The Victorian Government is also examining increased protections for vulnerable tenant groups as part of the Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing.

You have until 3 May to have your say about Victoria’s rental laws. To make a submission outlining your views on the issues paper, visit the Fairer Safer Housing website.
Published on 5th of April 2016 by Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich

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