C&G’s Guide to the 2020 Rental Reforms

Once upon a time, renting was understood as a short-term or transitional arrangement before people purchased and settled into their own properties. How things have changed! Today, many Victorians opt to lease rather than buy – with some tenants staying in situ for substantial periods of time. As our relationship to leasing changes as a society, laws governing residential tenancies also need to reflect shifting cultural perspectives. The latest blog from C&G unpacks some of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, with these reforms likely to be actioned by 1 July 2020.

When the Victorian Parliament passed the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018, over 130 reforms were detailed. These changes are intended to improve the renting experience for both tenants and landlords, offering increased protection for both parties. Critical changes to be aware of include:

Pets allowed

Landlords will be compelled to approve appropriate pet ownership in their property, which comes as a relief to tenants who have found it difficult to lease with Fido in tow. Of course, tenants will still be required to seek permission from their landlord, and they’ll need to ensure their pet’s comfort within the given space. Landlords who wish to exclude pets will need to apply to VCAT, who will then decide if the grounds for exclusion are reasonable.

Annual rent increases

Leased properties will be advertised to market at a fixed price, which can only be increased once a year. When applying for a property, a prospective tenant may choose to offer a higher rent per week if they wish to competitively secure the property.

“No specified reason” notices abolished

Renters will be better protected against unfair tenancy terminations courtesy of this reform. Landlords can only end a tenancy if it falls within the guidelines of the Residential Tenancies Act and provide transparent reasons for doing so.

‘End of fixed term’ tenancy notices

Tenants will be able to give 14 days’ notice if they intend to vacate a property once they receive the end of fixed term notice. This interaction is only valid for the first rental agreement, as the Residential Tenancies Act views it as a trial period for both parties. Additionally, in unique circumstances such as requiring special care, the tenant can submit their 14 days’ notice without incurring lease break fees.

These are the most notable changes, and the full list of reforms and amendments can be viewed here. Remember that Chisholm and Gamon are available to answer your questions and clarify any confusing terms relating to leasing – whether you’re a tenant or a landlord. Don’t hesitate to reach out today!

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