Information around rental minimum standards can be found here

Replacing the terms ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant’

Tenant and landlord are terms that are no longer used in the new rental laws:

  • tenants are now renters
  • landlords are now rental providers
  • tenancy agreements are now rental agreements

Changes already in place:

1 February 2019 – Long Term leases:

These changes provide clarity for renters and rental providers where a Long-term lease (LTL) is suitable to both parties.  An LTL is a term that is five years or more with some specific conditions.

19 June 2019 – Rent increase limited to one in any 12-month period – this applies to all rental properties.  At least 60 days’ notice of the proposed rent increase is required.

From 29 March 2021:

Fixed price advertisements 

Rental bidding to solicit offers of higher rent than the advertised price is banned.

False, misleading or deceptive representations 

It is unlawful for rental providers and agents to encourage someone to enter a rental agreement by misleading or deceptive conduct, or by false or misleading statements about certain aspects of a rental.

Example:

  • Location of the rental property

A property is in an area with limited public transport, but the rental provider falsely claims it is a ‘stone’s throw’ from the train station.

  • Rental cost

A property is listed as $600 a week all inclusive. But the rental provider did not mention extra fees for accessing the laundry, gym and communal areas.

  • The facilities of the rental property

A rental provider suggests that the property has high speed internet connection due to NBN connection but did not disclose that the apartment itself is not connected.

Inappropriate rental application questions

A rental provider or their agent cannot request inappropriate information in a rental application.

Disclosure requirements before entering into a rental agreement 

Rental providers must disclose important information to renters before they sign a rental agreement.

Examples:

  • property is on the market for sale, or in the process of being sold
  • property is to be repossessed under a mortgage
  • rental provider is not the owner of the property, and what rights they have in letting the property
  • electricity is supplied to the property from an embedded electricity network, and network details.

What is an embedded electricity network?

An embedded electricity network is where a privately owned and managed network supplies power to all the properties in a single building or development.

Prohibited terms

Certain terms are prohibited from being included in a rental agreement. In summary anything that requires a rental provider’s costs to be passed onto the renter or imposes additional cost on the renter.

Example:

  • It is also prohibited to include inducements or incentives to the renter regarding performance of the lease e.g.  rent is reduced after certain conditions are met.

Details of the prohibited terms are included page 8 of this document.

Unlawful discrimination information in rental agreement 

Rental agreements must include an information statement that educates applicants, rental providers and agents about unlawful discrimination.

Rental providers must not unlawfully discriminate (or instruct their agent to unlawfully discriminate) against renters in situations such as refusing to rent a property to an applicant, issuing a notice to vacate or determining consent for disability related modifications.

Unsigned rental agreements enforceable 

If a renter has signed the rental agreement but the rental provider has not and the rental provider (or their agent) has accepted rent or allowed part performance of the agreement by the renter, then the agreement is enforceable.

Rental provider must provide a free set of keys for each renter

A free set of keys or another security device (for example, to access an apartment building’s car park) must be provided to each renter who signed the rental agreement.

Pets 

Renters can keep pets at a rental property, with the written permission of the rental provider. Rental providers can only refuse permission with approval from VCAT.  If approval is not provided within 14 days, approval is deemed to be given.

The new pet laws do not apply to pets that were already present in the rental property before the new laws commenced. After commencement of the new laws. renters must request consent to bring a new pet into the property.

New process for repeated late or non-payment of rent

  • In each 12-month period, a renter can receive up to four notices to vacate for late payment of rent, if overdue rent is paid within the 14-day notice period. The notices act as ‘strikes’ against the renter but are otherwise of no effect.
  • If a renter does not receive any more notices to vacate for unpaid rent in the current 12-month period, the strikes will be cleared at the start of the next 12-month period.

If the renter receives a fifth notice to vacate for unpaid rent in a 12-month period, the notice to vacate is valid regardless of whether the renter pays back the rent owed within the 14-day notice period.

 Rights of entry to a rental property to take advertising photos 

Clarity has been provided on the process and provisions for advertising photographs and videos.

Right of entry to conduct sales inspections – Clarity has been provided on this process.  Renters will be entitled to compensation for each sales inspection based on the higher half a days rent or $30.  A sales inspection has been estimated at 2 hours which will allow multiple appointments within the timeframe.

Breach of duty notice 

Where a renter or rental provider gives the other a breach of duty notice, the person in breach will be required to remedy the breach if possible and, if the breach has resulted in loss or damage to them, provide compensation.

Nuisance breach of duty notice  

If a renter causing a nuisance is served a breach of duty notice but does not comply within seven days, the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a compensation or compliance order.

Quiet enjoyment breach of duty notice  

If a rental provider who is not ensuring the renter’s quiet enjoyment is served a breach of duty notice but does not comply within seven days, the renter can apply to VCAT for a compensation or compliance order.

Utility fees and charges responsibilities 

Rental providers must pay for all charges that renters are not liable for, including water charges in respect of the rented premises that are not separately metered.

Excessive utility bills 

Where a renter has received an excessive utility bill attributable to a hidden fault (such as a leaking water pipe), the rental provider must pay for the costs that exceed the renter’s ordinary usage amounts.

Rental providers must give a reason to end a rental agreement

Valid reasons include sale, change of use or demolition of premises, and landlord moving back into the premises.

Previously a rental provider could issue a notice to vacate without providing a reason. The notice periods were 120 days for rental agreements up to 5 years. 

Limiting the use of ‘end of fixed term’ notices to vacate

Rental providers can only issue a ‘end of fixed term’ notice to vacate at the end of the first fixed term of a rental agreement.

Evidence for change of use notice to vacate – Documentary evidence must be attached to a notice to vacate for change of us.

Guidelines for notice to vacate for endangering safety 

A renter may be given a notice to vacate by their rental provider if they or their visitor, endanger:

  • another resident or other residents
  • neighbours
  • the rental provider or their agent, or
  • the rental provider’s or agent’s contractor or employee.

Professional cleaning requirements 

A term in a rental agreement can only require professional cleaning if it is needed to return the property to the condition it was in at the start of the rental agreement, taking into account fair wear and tear.

Rental property must be in good repair and reasonably fit for occupation

A rental property must be in good repair. Even if something was already broken when the renter moved in, it still must be repaired by the rental provider.

The rental provider must ensure that the rented property is provided and maintained in good repair. It must be reasonably fit and suitable for occupation.

What if it is an old property and the rent is low?

The requirement applies regardless of:

  • any disrepair in the rental property the renter was aware of before they moved in
  • the amount of rent, or
  • the property’s age and character.