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C&G’s Guide to the Rent Fair Victoria Rent Reforms – What Landlords Need to Know
The proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act were designed to strengthen tenants’ rights when it comes to leasing. Now passed in Parliament without amendment, these new laws are housed in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018. The changes will be gradually rolled out between now and July 1st 2020, giving landlords, tenants and property managers time to adjust to the ‘new normal’.
The six main areas of note are:
Landlords are no longer able to enforce a ‘120 day no specified reason’ notice to vacate. All notices to vacate must now include a valid reason as outlined in the RTA. The aim of this change is to develop an environment where longer leases are established to benefit both the tenant and the landlord.
A Commissioner for Residential Tenancies is soon to be appointed to represent tenants seeking changes to the leasing landscape. Landlords and agencies will also now be subject to a ‘blacklist’, in much the same way that tenants who breach their rental contract terms are.
The repayment of bonds upon the end of a tenancy will be subject to new turnaround times involving the Residential Tenancies Authority. There will also be more flexibility around the release of bonds prior to a tenancy ending, though this remains mostly in the landlord’s control. Bonds themselves will also be subject to new caps.
Rental increases will only be able to be delivered once annually, and advertisement of rental properties will be watched more closely to crack down on rental bidding and the stimulation of competitive offers.
In a bid to make rental properties more akin to a permanent home, the new laws state that landlords can only refuse to consent to a pet living in the property upon application to VCAT. Guidance will be released to assist both tenants and landlords understand the types of pets are appropriate for rental properties, and any additional responsibilities that may befall a departing tenant if a pet has been present during the tenancy.
The new laws state that tenants will be able to make ‘minor’ modifications to a rental property without first obtaining written consent from the landlord. All other modifications will still require consent. Clearer guidelines around what is classes as a ‘minor’ modification are expected to be released soon.
If you’re a landlord or prospective landlord with concerns around the new rental legislation, contact the Chisholm & Gamon property management team for further information.