If you rent a home in Victoria, new rental laws coming into effect on 29 March 2021 will change your rights and responsibilities. Here’s what you need to know.

The new rental laws will expand the rights and responsibilities of renters and rental providers (landlords) in a bid to make renting in Victoria safer and fairer.

All the changes listed below will span the cycle of your rental agreement – from before you sign an agreement until after the agreement ends.

Victoria’s new rental laws on starting a new tenancy, living in a property and leaving a property have been summarised and categorised below to help you see how they will affect you.

>> For information on changes to rental laws around repairs, modifications and property conditions, click here.

STARTING YOUR TENANCY IN VICTORIA

Rental lawSummary of changes
Fixed price advertisements and offers, and ban on inviting rental bidsRental providers (landlords) and estate agents can only advertise or offer rental properties at a fixed price. They are banned from inviting rental bids or soliciting offers of rent higher than the advertised price.
False, misleading and deceptive representationsA rental provider and their agent are banned from encouraging someone to enter into a rental agreement by making false or misleading representations, or through misleading or deceptive conduct.
Use of information in a rental applicationA rental provider or their agent can only use personal information disclosed in a rental application to assess the applicant's suitability as a renter or to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Inappropriate rental application questionsA rental provider or their agent cannot request inappropriate information in a rental application.
Pre-contractual disclosureBefore entering into a rental agreement, the rental provider must disclose to the renter whether the property is on the market for sale or is being repossessed, or if they are not the owner of the property, and information about any embedded energy network.
Rental agreement updatedThe rental agreement form has been updated and modernised.
Prohibited termsCertain terms are prohibited from being included in a rental agreement. 
Unlawful discrimination information in rental agreementRental agreement forms must include an information statement that educates applicants, rental providers and agents about unlawful discrimination.
Rental providers not to unlawfully discriminateRental 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.
Maximum bond amount and rent in advanceUnder the new rental laws, rental providers can only ask for a maximum of one month's rent as a bond, and can only require rent to be paid one month in advance unless the weekly rent is more than a certain amount. The rental provider can only charge more than one month's worth of rent for the bond or require a renter to pay rent more than one month in advance if the weekly rental amount is more than $900, or VCAT has set a higher maximum bond for the rental property. 
Additional bond amounts for long-term rental agreementRental providers can request an additional bond in long-term rental agreements of more than five years if the renter has lived at the rental property continuously for at least five years, and the rental provider has given at least 120 days’ notice.
Where and how rent is to be paidAny method for paying rent can be specified under a rental agreement, but the rental provider must offer at least one reasonably available fee-free method of payment. Rental providers must also disclose any costs that may be incurred by the nominated method prior to the renter entering the agreement. Rental providers must also permit rent payments via Centrepay.
Digital renting guide provisionIf the renter has given consent to receiving documents electronically, the rental provider may give the renter the Renting a home: a guide for tenants summary of renter rights in electronic form.
Disclosure of rental provider detailsVCAT can order that the agent disclose the rental provider's details for the purpose of legal proceedings.
VCAT can formalise rental agreementsA renter can apply to VCAT for an order requiring the rental provider to enter a written rental agreement with the renter, where a rental agreement already exists but it is not in writing or is only partially in writing.
Unsigned rental agreements enforceableIf 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.

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LIVING IN A RENTAL PROPERTY

Rental lawSummary of changes
Rental provider must provide a free set of keys for each renterRental providers (landlords) must provide each renter with a free set of keys or security device. Rental providers can only charge a reasonable fee for additional or replacement keys or devices.
Pets in rental propertiesRenters can keep pets at a rental property with the written consent of the rental provider. A rental provider can apply to VCAT for an order that it is reasonable to refuse permission.
New process for repeated late or non-payment of rentWhen a renter pays back overdue rent within 14 days, any notice to vacate issued by the rental provider for that overdue rent is invalidated. This applies for the first four times it happens in a 12-month period. However, if the renter fails to pay rent as required on a fifth occasion in the same 12-month period, the rental provider may give a notice to vacate and apply to VCAT for a possession order. VCAT may adjourn the possession application and place renter on a payment plan to meet the outstanding arrears.
Changes to rules around rent increasesRental providers of caravan parks, residential parks and rooming houses cannot increase rent more than once every 12 months under any type of rental agreement. For fixed-term rental agreements, rent increases can only occur if the rental agreement specifies the amount or method of the rent increase.
Fixed-term rent increasesFor rent increases that occur during a fixed-term rental agreement, the amount or calculation method for the increase must be set out in the agreement and this amount or calculation method must be used.
Changes to rights of entry to a property by the rental providerRental providers must comply with more detailed rules around rights of entry including: extended notice period for some grounds, restrictions for renters protected under personal safety and family violence legislation, and length and frequency of entry.
Breach of duty noticeWhere 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 noticeIf 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 noticeIf 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.
Rental provider to charge reasonable assignment feesIf a rental agreement is being assigned to a new renter, the rental provider can only charge fees that are reasonably incurred by them because of the assignment of the agreement.
Utility fees and charges responsibilitiesRental 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. Park residents must pay for installation and connection of a service from a supply point on their site.
Excessive utility billsWhere 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.
Social housing service chargesSocial housing operators can impose a service charge for any water, central heating, laundry or utility services or facilities made available to the renter. Renters can apply to VCAT if they believe they have been overcharged.
Utility charges in rooming housesRooming house operators can charge for separately metered water in the same way they can already charge for separately metered gas or electricity consumption, where the charge is reasonable and is not already included in the rent.

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LEAVING A RENTAL PROPERTY

Rental lawSummary of changes
Rental providers must give a valid reason to end a rental agreementRental providers (landlords) cannot issue a 'no specified reason' notice to vacate. To end a rental agreement, rental providers must provide a valid reason such as sale, change of use or demolition of the rental property, or rental provider moving back into the rental property.
Limiting the use of 'end of fixed term' notices to vacateRental providers can only issue a notice to vacate at the end of the first fixed-term of a rental agreement. This does not apply to long-term rental agreements of more than five years.
Flexible end date for fixed term agreementsA notice to vacate for the end of a fixed-term agreement can specify a date on or after the end date specified in the fixed-term agreement.
Evidence for change of use notice to vacateRental providers must attach documentary evidence to a notice to vacate for change of use. The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria will specify the types of evidence that must be used, for example a building permit.
Notice to vacate for endangering safetyRental providers can issue a notice to vacate if the renter or their visitor endangers the safety of neighbours, the rental provider or their agent, or a contractor or employee of either the rental provider or their agent.
New ground for issuing notice to vacate: threats and intimidationRental providers can give renters a 14-day notice to vacate if the renter, or any person occupying the rented property, has seriously threatened or intimidated the rental provider or their agent, or a contractor or employee of either the rental provider or their agent.
Clarification for notice to vacate for damaging propertyA notice to vacate can be issued where a renter or their visitor, by act or omission, intentionally or recklessly causes serious damage to the rented property, including to any safety equipment or common areas.
New options for renters claiming their bondRenters can apply to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA), without the rental provider’s permission, to have all or part of their bond released.
Professional cleaning requirementsA 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.
Changes to procedure for goods left behindRental providers must give renters notice of goods left behind and store these in a safe place for at least 14 days after giving the notice. Further detailed requirements apply for the storage, disposal, sale and reclamation of goods left behind by renters.
Calculation of compensation for termination of a fixed-term rental agreementRental providers can apply to VCAT for compensation if a renter terminates a fixed-term rental agreement before the end date. The amount payable will be determined based on the loss incurred by the rental provider and any hardship suffered by the renter.
Compensation for lease breakWhen making a compensation order in the case of a lease break, VCAT must consider the severe hardship the renter may have suffered due to an unforeseen change in circumstances, if the agreement had continued.
14-day notice of intention to vacate without lease break feesRenters can give 14 days' notice of intention to vacate without paying lease break fees in limited circumstances, including when they need special or personal care, have been given certain notices to vacate, need temporary crisis accommodation or have been accepted into social housing.
Application to VCAT to remove renter database listingA renter can apply to VCAT to have a listing on a renter database amended or removed if VCAT is satisfied that the listing is unjust.
RTBA to provide renter details if ordered by VCATVCAT can order the RTBA to provide a renter's details (e.g. home address or email address) for the purposes of serving a document on the renter.
VCAT to consider reasonableness and proportionality before issuing possession ordersVCAT must not issue a possession order without first considering whether it is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances of the application to do so.
VCAT not to make possession orders in certain circumstancesVCAT must not make a possession order if it considers the failure to comply with an order trivial or that it has been remedied as far as possible, and that the breach of duty was not a repeat breach.
Postponing warrant of possessionVCAT can issue a warrant of possession in relation to residency in a rooming house or a caravan park. This warrant can be postponed in certain cases, based on relative hardship grounds and provided there is no unpaid rent or other breach.
Bank or other mortgage provider to honour rental agreementsIf a bank or other mortgage provider has consented to the mortgage recipient entering a rental agreement with the mortgaged property, upon taking possession of the property they are subject to all the provisions of the Act as though they were the rental provider.
Notice to vacate from mortgage providerA bank or other mortgage provider who wants vacant possession of the rented property must give the renter at least 60 days' notice to vacate. They cannot give this notice if they consented to the rental provider entering into the rental agreement.
Bank or other mortgage provider must provide evidence for possessionIf a bank or other mortgage provider applies to VCAT for a possession order of a rented property, it must attach a court order which shows its entitlement to the property and to sell the rented premises.
Death of the sole renterAfter the death of the sole renter, either the legal personal representative or next of kin of the deceased renter can give a notice of intention to vacate, the rental provider can give a notice to vacate, or VCAT can make orders terminating the agreement.

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