Victorian tenants may soon be given the right to have a pet under sweeping rental reforms to the state’s tenancy rules.
Consumer Affairs Minister, Marlene Kairouz said the proposed changes were designed to protect the one in four Victorians who rent today.
“More people are renting than ever before and for longer – that’s why tenants need a fairer deal,” she 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.”
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Premier Andrews said all Australians deserve a safe, secure and affordable home – whether they own it or not.
“For too long we’ve had an imbalance and things have not been as fair as they should be,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“The landlord and the agent have all the power and given how tight the market is, the tenant can’t speak out and has no voice.”
A short note to the one in four Victorians who rent. pic.twitter.com/xltvRRZQEp
— Daniel Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) October 7, 2017
There will also be a new Commissioner for Residential Tenancies, who will advocate on behalf of tenants.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria has vowed to campaign heavily against the changes, planning to approach the state Opposition and crossbenchers for support to stop many of the news laws revealed on Sunday by Premier Andrews.
A big win for tenants is the right to own a pet, and while the owner must still provide consent, they’ll only be able to decline in specific circumstances.
Until now, landlords have been able to include a no pets rule in their rental agreement – something that, according to the RSPCA, saw around 15% of animals surrendered.
Transparency on lease terms
Landlords will be asked to inform prospective tenants if they intend to sell the property before the lease is signed. The same will apply if any asbestos has been found on the property.
Property modifications made easier
It may become easier for tenants to make minor modifications to their rental (i.e. installing a picture hook for a frame), as well as faster reimbursements for tenants who pay for urgent repairs.
Changes to rental bonds
Under the new reforms, if the rent is less than $760/week, landlords will not be able to ask for a bond that is more than a month’s rent. Premier Andrews said this would cover the majority of Victorian rental households. “This reform will also apply to rent that is paid in advance,” he said.
A ban on rental bidding apps
Under the new reforms the government said it would crack down on the “scourge” of rental bidding, which forces would-be tenants into bidding wars while trying to secure a house.
The landlord blacklist
Amongst the changes noted in the announcement was a crackdown on ‘dodgy landlords,’ with the introduction of a landlord and estate agent blacklist available to renters. False, misleading and deceptive claims by landlords will also be outlawed.
For more information about the rental fairness package, visit rentfair.vic.gov.au
Although the new changes are set to make life a little easier for Victorian tenants, renters across Australia should use this opportunity to consider all aspects of renting before moving into the market.
Check out our handy list of articles below:
- Questions every renter should ask their prospective landlord
- Why are my applications always rejected?
- Pets in rentals: How to get your landlord on your side
- Pet bond: Renting with pets in Australia
- Jump the rental application queue with RentCheck
- Your rental ledger: Why you should be asking for a copy