Victoria announces major overhaul to rental, planning and housing policy

The Victorian Government will introduce mandatory continuing professional development for real estate industry professionals and implement the biggest shake-up in rental, planning and housing reforms in generations, it was announced today.

The changes will include training for agents, property managers, conveyancers and owners corporation managers.

“It’ll mean better skills for real estate workers, encourage ethical conduct across the industry, and give renters the peace of mind they deserve,” the Andrews Government said.

The sweeping changes were announced as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s Victoria’s Housing Statement – The Decade Ahead 2024-2034, a policy document aimed at boosting housing supply, including 800,000 new homes over the next 10 years.

Under the plan, the State Government will also crack down on landlords evicting tenants at the end of their first fixed-term lease so they can increase the rent and release the property at a higher rate.

“If agents or landlords are issuing a new lease after they’ve evicted previous tenants on their first fixed-term one, they’ll have to offer the property at the same rent for at least 12 months,” the government said in the housing statement.

“It’ll reduce the incentive for landlords to churn through renters by evicting them, and give renters more certainty over their living arrangements.”

But the government stopped short of introducing rent control, admitting it was a policy that appeared to address housing affordability but “often worsens the housing crisis by discouraging investment in housing, reducing the quality of rentals and distorting the housing market”.

They also plan to ban all types of rent bidding, including unsolicited bidding initiated by tenants themselves.

“More and more, we’re seeing people make their own unsolicited bids – either to pay more weekly rent or to pay more than four weeks in advance – to try and give their applications a competitive edge,” the government said in the Housing Statement.

“We’ll level the playing field for renters by closing this loophole and banning all types of rental bidding for good. 

“We’ll make it an offence to accept bids, and introduce tougher penalties for agents and landlords who break the law.” 

They will also establish a portable bonds scheme where tenants can carry their rental bond from one property straight over to another, or wait until they’ve got their old bond back to pay their new one.

Another initiative will be the creation of Rental Dispute Resolution Victoria – one-stop shop for renters, agents and landlords to resolve tenancy disputes over rent, damages, repairs and bonds.

“You shouldn’t have to end up at VCAT to have simple repairs done, or to get the money you’re owed,” the government said.

“VCAT should be a last resort for tenants and landlords, not the first stop.”

Victoria will also become the first state to have a short-term accommodation levy.

Short-stay rental platforms like Stayz and Airbnb will be hit with a 7.5 per cent levy from January 2025, with income from the levy to go to Homes Victoria, to support their work building and maintaining social and affordable housing across the state, with 25 per cent of funds to be invested in regional Victoria. 

“In Victoria, there are more than 36,000 short stay accommodation places – with almost half of these in regional Victoria,” the government said.

“More than 29,000 of those places are entire homes. 

“These are places that cannot be used for longer-term accommodation or rented out on fixed term agreements – so it makes sense that they should provide some benefit toward the places that can.”

Other local council charges on short stay accommodation will be removed.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria was the fastest growing state in Australia, with the population set to hit 10.3 million by 2051.

Some 2.24 million homes will need to be built by then, including 425,600 across regional and rural Victoria. 

Mr Andrews said the housing statement set a bold target to build 800,000 new homes, some 80,000 per year, across the state over the next decade, delivered through an Affordability Partnership with the housing industry.

“The status quo is not an option, and admiring the problem will only make it worse,” he said.

“Unless we take bold and decisive action now, Victorians will be paying the price for generations to come.

“Whether you’re buying your first place, upsizing or downsizing as life changes, or renting – the work we’re doing will mean there’ll be a place you can afford, and that you can call home.”

Other key initiatives:

  • Single dwellings on lots bigger than 300sq m, and not covered by an overlay, will no longer require a planning permit. Single dwellings on lots smaller than 300sq m, where an overlay doesn’t exist, will be ticked off within 10 days.
  • The Property Council of Australia (PCA) and the City of Melbourne have identified close to 80 commercial office buildings that are currently under-used because of changing work patterns and demand for flexible floor space increasing. The government will work with the PCA and the City to consider opportunities to facilitate the conversion of these offices into around 10,000-12,000 apartments and mixed-use properties.
  • The government will make it easier for people to build a second small home on their property. Dwelling garden units won’t require a planning permit if they’re less than 60sq m. More permit exemptions will be introduced for single dwellings for things like extensions to sheds and carports.
  • Unlock and rezone surplus government land to deliver around 9000 homes across 45 sites in both metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. A target of at least 10 per cent of affordable homes to be built across these sites. 
  • We’ll release another $500 million from the Victorian Homebuyer Fund, putting home ownership within reach for more Victorians. This additional funding will support around 3000 more Victorians into a home through a shared equity model.
  • Establish a new $1 billion Regional Housing Fund to deliver more than 1300 new homes across regional Victoria. The new homes will include a mix of social and affordable housing.

Elie Agent has contacted the Victorian Government seeking more detail on the mandatory CPD training.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.