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.
Victoria’s new rental laws on repairs, modifications and property conditions have been summarised and categorised below to help you see how they will affect you.
>> For information on changes to rental laws around starting a tenancy, living in a rental property or leaving a rental, click here.
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REPAIRS, MODIFICATIONS AND PROPERTY CONDITIONS
|Rental law||Summary of changes|
|Rental property must be kept in good repair and reasonably fit for occupation||Rental providers (landlords) must ensure the rental property is provided and maintained in good repair and is in a reasonably fit and suitable condition for occupation. This applies regardless of the amount of rent paid or the property's age and character.|
|Condition report requirements||Condition reporting is required regardless of whether a bond is taken. The condition report must be completed at the start and end of the rental agreement.|
|Rental minimum standards||Under the new laws rental providers have a duty to ensure their rental property meets the rental minimum standards. Rental minimum standards have been set for door locks, ventilation, vermin proof bins, toilets, bathroom facilities, kitchen facilities, laundry facilities, structural soundness, mould and dampness, electrical safety, window coverings, windows, lighting, heating.|
|Non-compliance with minimum standards||Rental providers must ensure that the property complies with minimum standards before a renter moves in. If a property does not comply with the minimum standards, the renter can terminate the rental agreement before they move in, or they can request an urgent repair.|
|Expanded definition for urgent repairs||Urgent repairs now include repairs or replacements relating to air conditioning, safety devices and any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure, including pest infestations, or mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure.|
|Urgent repairs guidelines||The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria will issue guidelines clarifying timeframes for responding to urgent repairs. VCAT must consider the guidelines when determining urgent repairs disputes.|
|Increased limit for urgent repairs reimbursement||The money limit for renters to authorise urgent repairs when their rental provider has not promptly responded to an urgent repair request has been increased.|
|Rental provider must pay renter back for cost of urgent repairs within 7 days||Rental providers must pay back renters for the cost of urgent repairs (or replacement if the fault cannot be repaired) within seven days of the renter giving written notice of the reasonable cost of the repairs.|
|Liability for utility charges for non-compliant energy efficient replacement appliances||A rental provider is liable for the cost of supplying water, gas or electricity to the rented premises for as long as the rental provider is in breach of their duty to replace a water, gas or electrical appliance with a replacement which has an equal or greater prescribed energy efficiency rating.|
|Rent Special Account||Upon application by the renter, VCAT must order that rent be paid into the Rent Special Account for a specific period, where the rental provider receives notice that urgent repairs are required, fails to carry out those repairs, and has not demonstrated that they would experience financial hardship if the rent was paid into the Rent Special Account.|
|Applying to VCAT for non-urgent repairs||Renters can apply directly to VCAT for non-urgent repairs if the rental provider has not carried out notified repairs within 14 days. Renters can still request a repairs report from Consumer Affairs Victoria but a repairs report is no longer be required to apply to VCAT.|
|New rules for renters making modifications to rented property||Renters can now make certain modifications without the rental provider's consent. There are other modifications which a rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse consent to renters making.|
|Director issued maintenance guidelines||When determining a dispute about maintenance, VCAT must take into account the relevant guidelines set by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria.|
|Director issued cleanliness and repair guidelines||When determining a dispute about cleanliness or repairs, VCAT must take into account the relevant guidelines set by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria.|
|Director issued damage and fair wear and tear guidelines||When determining a dispute about damage or fair wear and tear, VCAT must take into account the relevant guidelines set by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria.|
|Renters to leave property reasonably clean||Renters must leave the property reasonably clean and in the same condition as at the start of the rental agreement, taking into account fair wear and tear.|
|Renters and visitors not to damage property||Renters and their visitors must not intentionally or negligently cause damage to the property or common areas. If damage occurs, the renter must inform the rental provider.|
|Renters must inform rental provider of damage||A renter must report damage or the breakdown of facilities as soon as practicable after becoming aware to the rental provider. This report will be considered by VCAT in claims for compensation by the renter. If the renter receives an end of fixed term notice to vacate in response to such a report, it is of no effect.|
|Timeframe for reimbursement of cost of repair when a repair notice has been issued||Renters must reimburse rental providers for the reasonable cost of repairs within 14 days of receiving the repair notice. Renters experiencing hardship may apply by written notice to the rental provider, or failing that, to VCAT for an additional 14 days to pay back the cost of repairs.|
|VCAT to consider depreciation||VCAT must consider depreciation when assessing a rental providers claim for compensation for damage to rented property.|
|Safety-related activities||Renters and rental providers must undertake safety-related activities set out in the rental agreement. Where necessary, they must ensure the activity is carried out by a suitably qualified person.|
|Records of gas and electrical safety checks||Rental providers must comply with prescribed requirements for keeping and producing records of gas and electrical safety checks conducted at the property.|
|Interference with safety devices||Renters and rooming house residents must not remove, deactivate or interfere with the operation of a prescribed safety device (e.g. smoke alarm), unless it is reasonable to do so.|
|Locks for external doors and windows||Rental providers must ensure that external doors are secured with a working deadlock and each window capable of having a lock has one. There are exceptions, for example if there is a screen door attached to an external door with a deadlock.|
|Rental provider joining owners corporation to repair application||Where an application is made to VCAT for a breach of duty where the alleged repair involves a problem or defect originating from the adjoining common property, the rental provider may join any relevant owners corporation as a party to the application.|
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