The Victorian Government has published its changes to renting laws which come into effective on Monday, 29 March 2021.
The start date of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 was delayed from the original date of 1 July 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Consumer Affairs Victoria will manage the implementation of the new laws, including further consultation to develop regulations and guidelines.
Key changes to the rental laws include terminology references, new disclosure requirements, updates to some forms, what rental minimum standards will look like and modifications renters can make to rental properties.
Like everything in this world, there’s good, there’s bad and somewhere in the middle is plain old common sense. And with approximately 50% of strata properties being rented, that’s a whole lot of people directly affected by these regulations.
Whilst these changes could be perceived as being introduced perhaps due to less than scrupulous landlords and tenants of the past, the majority do the right thing and just want to live comfortably, reasonably and in harmony.
The following will be effective from 29 March 2021.
Change in terminology
With the new regulations, there will no longer be landlords or tenants as such. The proposed Regulations use the following terminology:
Rooming house operators
currently called tenants
currently called landlords
currently called tenancy agreements
currently called rooming house owners
It’s all about improving the rental experience and if a change in terminology can help achieve this, then renters and rental providers there shall be.
New disclosure requirements
The new regulations prescribe that a rental provider must disclose to a rental applicant the following information:
- If there is an embedded network, the rental provider must share details of the network operator and the electricity tariffs and all associated fees and charges.
- If the rental property or common property was the location of a homicide in the last 5 years.
- If there has been any drug related use such as trafficking, cultivation or used as storage of a drug.
- If any notice, order, declaration, report or recommendation issued by a relevant building surveyor, public authority or government department that applies to the rented premises or common property at the time of disclosure.
- If there is a current domestic building work dispute under the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 which applies to or affects the rented premises.
- If there is a current dispute under Part 10 of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 which applies to or affects the rented premises.
- A copy of any owners corporation’s rules applicable to the rented premises.
This disclosure is required by the rental provider each time the rental provider issues a lease.
It is not known if the new disclosure will be a “prescribed form” or just prescribed information but all the associated forms will be released prior to 29 March 2021 by Consumer Affairs.
Rental property standards
Rental providers have a duty to ensure their rental property meets the rental minimum standards before a renter moves in. The property must be kept in good repair and reasonably fit for occupation.
This rule applies regardless of the age and character of the property or the amount of rent being paid.
A condition report is required regardless whether a bond has been taken or not. The condition report must be completed at the start and end of the rental agreement.
Modifications to property
Under the new regulations renters can make prescribed modifications without the rental provider’s consent.
Renters can spend up to $2,500 on urgent repairs or replacements relating to air conditioning, safety devices such as a pool fence or smoke alarm, or any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure. This includes pest infestations, or mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure.
There are other modifications that a rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse consent to renters making within the property – such as the installation of picture hooks or wall anchoring devices. Renters should always check the Owners Corporation’s rules and the regulations first before proceeding with any modifications.
Renters guide from the Owners Corporation
There is an opportunity for Owners Corporations to prepare a renter’s guide specifically for rental providers so they can attach the property’s rules to the rental agreement.
Details of any such design guidelines could be included that regulate:
- the colour of the curtain backing that can be seen from the common property
- the colour and style of any security screens or fly screen doors
- non-permanent window film for insulation
- the location of private equipment on common property
That way, renters would know in advance of the rules and make accurate choices should they wish to make minor modifications.
As these changes are new and still developing, we will continue to advise you of updates as they come to hand. Should you have any queries in the meantime, please contact your VBCS Community Manager for further information.
Details are accurate at time of publication.