After much discussion and many submissions from the Victorian community, The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 is seeing one of the largest rental law shake-ups in over two decades.
The new Act, which introduces a whopping 132 reforms, has already seen some laws implemented, including the removal of a blanket ban on pets - with no landlord being allowed to unreasonably refuse any furry friends in tow.
Providing good news for tenants and extensive changes for landlords, we expect many to benefit from Victoria’s new rental laws which will come into effect by 29 March 2021 (after being delayed from the original start date of 1 July 2020).
Following the dip in the property market last year and what seemed to be all doom and gloom, Australia’s housing market seems to be on the up - indicating some much-needed good news on the horizon.
With over one in four of the Victorian population living in rented housing, these new reforms couldn’t come at a better time.
We get it may seem pretty daunting, so in case you didn’t feel like reading through 132 new laws, we narrowed down some of the main ones to let you know what this all means moving forward:
Why is the Residental Tenancies Amendment Act changing?
The changes are geared towards vulnerable renters including those in long-term rent situations and social housing to make 'renting fairer for all Victorians.'
In short, the reforms are designed to provide an appropriate balance of interests between landlords and tenants.
It also increases protection for residents and tenants while ensuring landlords can still effectively manage their properties.
What is being changed in the new Victorian rental laws for 2021?
With a hefty 132 reforms, it covers almost everything: from starting a tenancy, living in a property, leaving a property, long-term leases, repairs and modifications and so much more.
Among some of the minor changes, there is new legal lingo we need to get accustomed to. Such as landlords now being referred to as rental providers, and tenants as renters. Along with tenancy agreements changing to rental agreements, and rooming house owners to rooming house operators.
The reforms include minimum standards ensuring the property being rented is fit to live in, including:
- Having adequate ventilation
- Being structurally sound
- Being supplied with electricity or gas
- Having a water supply for hot and cold water (including adequate plumbing and drainage)
More significant changes include:
- The banning of rental bids - with rental providers only being allowed to offer and advertise properties at a fixed price.
- Renters will be able to make minor modifications without consent (such as installing picture hooks on walls).
- A licensed electrician or gas fitter must conduct an electrical or gas safety check every two years (to meet minimum safety standards).
- The end to no-grounds eviction (rental providers must provide a valid reason to terminate the agreement).
- You will only be able to increase the price of rent once a year rather than once every six months.
Most notably, there will be no penalties to renters in family violence or domestic violence situations who need to break a lease early.
For a full list of all the changes, visit The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018.
What do the rental law changes mean for rental providers?
The reforms have generated mixed reviews, with some welcoming the changes and some worried this means an increase in expenses.
But, with the new rules and regulations providing specific information on minimum standards required, modifications that can be made, and safety maintenance obligations - rental providers will in fact benefit through stronger accountability for renters, clearer obligations, and modern regulation and processes.
Basically, renters now have a legal right to live in a safe, secure place to call home, while rental providers have more peace of mind with stronger accountability for those renting out their property.
So, do landlords need to do anything?
For most reasonable and responsible rental providers, changes won’t be monumental. But you may have to do a little property maintenance to either fix minor wear and tear or prepare your property for prospective renters.
You should get familiar with new notice periods, long-term leases, and the minimum standards that are now required. A property manager can help you get on off on the right foot with this.
If you're read the changes we listed above and read the summary on the new changes from March 2021, then you'll be well across the new Residential Tenancies Amendment Act.
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