Victorian rental laws have been the subject of sweeping changes over the past couple of years. These changes have generally been met favourably as necessary revisions to laws that no longer make sense for modern Australians. According to the Victorian Government website, new “affordable” lettings in Melbourne have dwindled from 30% to only 7.6% in just a decade, which has led to many Melbournians struggling to find housing that is within their price range.
Luckily for renters, the Victorian Government’s amendments to Victorian rental laws will hopefully see this affordable letting figure increase over the next few years. These changes also look to alter some of the things a landlord can ask of their potential tenants, so it’s important to stay up-to-date. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the Victorian Government is enacting rental reforms for Victorians.
Changes to Victorian Rental Laws (The Residential Tenancies Act 1997)
As we discussed in a previous article, the brunt of enacted rental reforms have taken place in the form of reviewing the Residental Tenancies Act 1997. These laws, which were put in place two decades before the review took place, were deemed to poorly reflect the needs of Melbourne renters, as they hadn’t been adapted to a rental landscape that continues to change at a rapid pace.
Announced in October 2017, these alterations were focussed on strengthening the rights of tenants while providing more security and support. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 passed 11 months later and comprised over 130 reforms. To learn more about these specific reforms, visit the Fairer Safer Housing page. However, some of the more sweeping changes included:
- The introduction of longer leases, making it easier for tenants and landlords to facilitate longer lease agreements.
- Removal of the “no specified reason” 120-day notice to vacate, which allowed landlords to provide a 120-day eviction notice without supplying any reasoning or justification.
- More stringent laws regarding accuracy and honesty when making agreements with tenants. Landlords are now required to provide any relevant information that may impact the renter’s tenancy, including plans to sell the property during their lease.
- The creation of a landlord and agent “blacklist”, allowing renters to look up and identify landlords and agents who have breached their obligations in the past.
- Allowing tenants to own pets, provided that they acquire written consent from the landlord. This request can only be refused by order of VCAT, and the onus will be on the landlord if they are looking to refuse.
While there are sure to be more changes to these laws in the future, the Victorian Government has taken some great strides in creating more fairness and equality in Victorian rental laws.
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