Minimum health and safety standards for rental properties, annual rent increases and streamlined dispute resolution are among possible reforms to residential tenancy laws presented in a new options paper.

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Victorians can now have their say on the options discussion paper developed as part of the state government’s review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act).

Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Simon Cohen said that, with growing numbers of Victorians renting for longer, it was essential to ensure the Act keeps pace with the modern rental market.

“The Residential Tenancies Act has a significant impact on the day to day lives of Victorians who rent their home, affecting everything from whether they can have a pet, to how often their rent increases and the reasons for which they can be asked to leave,” he said.

“Owning a rental property is a major investment and the Act also has major implications for how landlords manage their rental properties.

“We want to ensure residential tenancy laws strike the right balance that is fair for everyone, and the feedback we receive on the options paper will be used to make recommendations on how the laws should operate in the years to come.”

The options have been informed by feedback collected to date as part of the review, including 331 written submissions and 3,500 contributions to forums and quick polls. The paper also includes options meeting the government’s commitment to increase protections for family violence victims in the private rental market.

Some of the options for reform on which Victorians’ views are sought are:

  • facilitating fixed term leases of longer than five years
  • restricting rental increases to once per year
  • banning rental bids
  • introducing minimum health and safety standards for rental properties
  • improving incentives for landlords to make repairs quickly, such as restrictions on charging market rent
  • introducing a mediation service with powers to make binding decisions
  • requiring notices to vacate to be accompanied by supporting evidence
  • requiring tenants to have landlord consent before listing a property on Airbnb or similar sites
  • allowing tenants who are victims of family violence to challenge notices to vacate if given as a result of conduct by a perpetrator
  • banning unreasonable ‘no pets’ clauses in tenancy agreements.

The public has until Friday 10 February, 2017 to respond to the paper. Feedback will be used to develop a package of recommended reforms to the Act, followed by legislation which will be introduced into the Victorian Parliament in early 2018.

The options primarily target general residential tenancies and rooming houses, and apply to both the social housing and private rental sectors. Options responding to issues affecting people operating or living in caravan and residential parks have been deferred until the release of the final report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Retirement Housing Sector, which is due to conclude in March 2017.

The options paper was recently launched by the acting Minister for Consumer Affairs Lily D’Ambrosio.

To view the full options paper and make a submission, visit the Fairer Safer Housing website.

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