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Victoria’s rental laws will undergo a shakeup with two new reforms in place from 19 July 2019. Here we explain what these reforms mean and how they will affect you.

Rent increases limited to once a year

What’s new?

The rent can now only be increased by the landlord or agent once every 12 months, where before it was six months.

How does this work?

This reform only applies to fixed-term or periodic tenancy agreements entered into on or after 19 June 2019 and mean landlords must not increase the rent more than once in any 12-month period.

The fine print for renters and landlords:

  • If you’re renting a home and you entered a tenancy agreement before 19 June, you will not be affected by this change.
  • Landlords cannot increase the rent before a fixed-term agreement ends unless the lease terms allow it.
  • In a long-term lease (one that’s more than five years) using Form 2, the amount and increase frequency are agreed in advance as part of the agreement. The landlord must not increase the rent more than once in any 12 month period. You can read more about long-term leases here.
  • This change only applies to general tenancies (the type covered under Part 2 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997). If you’re a resident in a rooming house (Part 3 of the Act), caravan park (Part 4) or site agreement (Part 4A), a 12-month restriction on rent increases is due to begin on 1 July 2020.

The renting guide can be provided electronically

What’s new?

Landlords and agents can give a tenant a copy of Renting a home: a guide for tenants in electronic form, as opposed to a printed copy.

How does this work?

This can only occur if the tenant has agreed (in writing) to receive notices and other documents this way. If they haven’t, they must be provided with a printed copy. If the tenant has agreed to receive documents in electronic form, landlords can email them the following link: consumer.vic.gov.au/rentingguide.

The fine print:

  • Landlords and agents can only provide the renting guide, notices or other documents electronically if they already have the tenant’s written consent to receive documents this way.

How the changes were made

Victoria’s reforms are in response to community feedback taken during the Victorian Government’s Fairer Safer Housing consultation, which reviewed the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. More than 4,800 public comments were received from a range of people and organisations.

All changes in place from July 2020

While some laws have been implemented, the full reform suite will be in place by 1 July 2020.

Future reforms will cover:

  • New options for the release of bonds
  • Pets in rental properties
  • Fixed-price advertisements and a ban on rental bidding
  • Removing ‘No specified reason’ notices to vacate for periodic leases; and
  • Using the term ‘renters’ rather than ‘tenants’, and ‘rental providers’ instead of ‘landlords’.

Consumer Affairs Victoria will oversee the reform implementation and will run further consultation to develop regulations and guidelines. Stay up to date with changes.

* https://engage.vic.gov.au/fairersaferhousing

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