One in four Victorians are now renting and their numbers are rising. Higher volumes of tenancy and residents’ disputes has led to bottlenecks at VCAT, compelling the Victorian Government to undertake a review of the Residential Tenancies Act. In a nutshell, the review means a shift toward giving tenants more rights. A new Commissioner for Residential Tenancies will monitor the rental sector while the Government considers further changes.

At this stage the changes are proposed and would be expected to be passed through parliament in 2018.

  • Rental bidding - out: Agents may only advertise a rent figure. They cannot ask prospective tenants to bid against each other.
  • 120-day “no specified reason” notice to vacate - out: Landlords must now provide a reason to terminate.
  • Full disclosure - in: The landlord must disclose asbestos, plans to sell and other important information before any contract is signed.
  • Pets - in: It will be easier for tenants to keep pets. Outgoing tenants must clean and fumigate if pet-related damage goes beyond “fair wear and tear”.
  • ‘Minor’ modifications - in: It will be harder for landlords to refuse modifications like air conditioning, picture hooks, reasonable security measures, disability-related modifications, IT cables etc.
  • Long term leases - in: New RTA protected five year leases will be available.
  • Landlord and agent blacklist - in: Landlords and agents who breach their RTA obligations will go on a list.
  • Quicker reimbursement for urgent repairs: A tenant must be reimbursed for urgent repairs within seven days, down from 14.
  • Quicker bond returns: Bonds must be repaid automatically unless a dispute is lodged within 14 days. If both parties agree, the bond can be released up to a month before the end of a tenancy.
  • Less rent increases: Rent can only be increased annually; currently six monthly.
  • False, misleading or deceptive representations: Such claims made by landlords or agents to induce a tenant into a property can be taken to VCAT.

It’s our view these changes unfairly reduce the rights and security of a landlord over their significant financial investment. This makes property investment less attractive thus reducing rental stock and ultimately driving up rents. Meanwhile, landlords may be be warier in selecting tenants making it harder for renters to secure a property – all this at a time of unprecedented population growth.

For more information about the proposed reforms, visit the Rent Fair Victoria website or call us here at Kay & Burton.

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