Andrews Government in Victoria promises to make renting ‘fairer’ for tenants

Reforms include a provision to allow pets, faster bond refunds and an agent/landlord blacklist.

Story Highlights
  • Government say the package gives tenants more rights
  • Designed to help tenants stay on longer leases
  • Abolishing 'no specified reason notices to vacate'
  • Cracking down on "dodgy" landlords
  • Everyone has the right to own a pet
  • Bonds to be capped at one month's rent

In a media release yesterday, the Andrews Labor Government has promised to make renting “fair” with “an unprecedented package of tenancy reforms” in response to a review of the State’s Residential Tenancies Act.

Right now, more than one in four Victorians rent their home and that number is increasing as it becomes more difficult for Victorians to break into the housing market.

The Labor Government’s rental fairness package gives tenants more rights, helps them stay on longer leases, makes bonds smaller and fairer, and cracks down on dodgy landlords.

Premier Daniel Andrew said, “Only our Labor Government will fix the system and make renting fair for every Victorian.”

“Everyone deserves the chance to have a safe, secure and affordable home – whether you own it or not.”

The Package

Rental Bidding

The Government say they will crack down on rental bidding – ‘a scourge that forces would-be tenants to out-bid each other on rent’ – and will limit rent increases to once a year to give renters more financial stability. This may include services such as Property Connect and Rent Wolf.

Consumer affairs minister Marlene Kairouz said, “These changes will crack down on rental bidding, make it easier and faster for renters to get their bond back, and will better hold landlords and agents to account for their actions.”

Agents would also be prevented from soliciting higher rental amounts (but this would not stop renters from offering them).

New restrictions on ending leases

Building on the Labor Government’s introduction of long-term leases, renters will also get better long-term security by abolishing ‘no specified reason’ notices to vacate, and new restrictions will be placed on ending leases without a reason at the end of a lease when that lease has lasted more than one fixed term.

Landlords can’t say no to Pets

To end discrimination against renters with pets, the Government will give every tenant the right to own a pet, and while landlords will still need to provide consent, they will only be able to refuse in certain circumstances. If a renter is refused the right to have a dog, the decision could be appealed to VCAT or the courts.

Minor Modifications and Urgent Repairs

It will be easier for tenants to make minor modifications to the rental property, such as installing hooks for picture frames – and there will be faster reimbursements for tenants who pay for urgent repairs.

Bonds to be capped and released quicker

In a significant cost of living reform, bonds will be capped at one month’s rent where the rent is twice the current median weekly rent – currently equivalent to $760 per week or less, covering the vast majority of Victorian rental households. This reform will also apply to rent that is paid in advance.

The Government will also ensure the faster release of bonds at the end of a tenancy. Under the reform, tenants will be able to apply for the release of the bond without written consent from their landlord, who will have 14 days to raise a dispute before the bond is repaid automatically.

Landlord and Agent ‘blacklist’

There will be a ‘crackdown on dodgy landlords’ with the introduction of a landlord and estate agent blacklist who have been found in breach of rental laws or had action taken against them being made available to renters. False, misleading, and deceptive claims by landlords will also be outlawed.

A new Commissioner for Residential Tenancies will be set up to help champion the rights of Victorian renters and give them a voice in future reform of renting laws over the years to come.

Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz said, “More people are renting than ever before and for longer – that’s why tenants need a fairer deal.”

The legislation will be introduced to Parliament in 2018. The REIV had voiced some concerns at some of these reforms earlier in this year saying it would drive rental prices up.  What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.

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Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.