How could this affect you?
More than one in four Victorians rent their home, a number that is increasing as it becomes more difficult for many Victorians to break into the housing market. The Labor Government has announced more than 130 reforms that will strengthen renters’ rights, better protect vulnerable tenants and enable people to turn the house they rent into a home.
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill gives tenants a suite of new statutory rights including allowing pets by default in all rentals without the Landlords permission (this will not include Tenants living under a Body Corporate). Landlords can only refuse the right of a tenant to have a pet by order of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Tenants will be allowed to make modifications to their rental property – such as nailing a hook in the way or installing anchors to stop furniture falling on children without requiring the Landlord’s consent.
Landlords will also have to ensure rental properties have working stoves, heating and deadlocks along with basic safety standards for gas, electricity and smoke alarms, under the new laws.
Tenants in family violence situations will also be able to terminate rental agreements in a bid to ensure victims are not held liable for the debts of their abusers, in line with a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Family Violence
Other proposed changes include:
– Banning all rental bidding.
– Limiting rent increases to once a year.
– Bonds will be automatically capped at 4 weeks rent.
– Deceased estates are no longer liable for unpaid rent.
– Rights of entry and photography when a rental property is being sold will be clarified, as will rules to deal with goods left by a renter at the end of a tenancy.
– Tenants will be able to apply to have their bond released without written consent from their landlord, who has 14 days to dispute it before it is automatically repaid.
“These new laws are the biggest reforms to renting in Victoria’s history and are about ensuring everyone who rents has a safe and secure home to call their own,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
The commencement date of the bill has yet to be proclaimed. There will be a period of consultation around the regulations which will sit alongside legislation and that could take up to 18 months.
The current Residential Tenancies Act 1997 remains in place for the foreseeable future.