Are You A Tenant Or Landlord? You Need To Be Aware Of Recent Law Changes

by | Apr 6, 2021 | Conveyancing & Property

On 29 March 2021 over 130 rental law reforms were put in place making it the biggest overhaul for the industry in over 25 years.  These changes affect not only private rentals but also caravan parks, rooming houses and residential villages throughout Victoria.

The changes are generally of benefit to tenants and remove some rights and powers previously possessed by landlords.

Key Changes

(Note this is not intended to be an exhaustive list but a snapshot of some of the more commonly relevant)

Bond / Rent

  • Landlords will now only be able to ask for a maximum of one month’s rent as a bond (unless the weekly rental is above $900)
  • Landlords can only require rent to be paid one month in advance
  • If a tenant repays overdue rent within 14 days, any notice to vacate issued by the landlord is deemed invalid (applies for the first four instances over a 12 month period, after which the notice to vacate is effective if it happens again)
  • Landlords of caravan parks or residential villages or rooming houses cannot increase rent more than once a year (under any rental agreement)
  • Rent increases may only be implemented in line with the methods described in rental agreements

 Eviction

  • If a landlord wishes to terminate a rental agreement, they need to provide a valid reason on the notice to vacate (eg: selling the property, demolition, etc).  The previous “no specified reason” ground of termination is no longer available
  • A landlord can only issue a notice to vacate at the end of the first term of a fixed-term rental agreement (does not apply to long term leases of longer than 5 years)

 Keys

  • Each tenant must be provided with a free set of keys/security device when moving into the property and landlords can only charge a reasonable fee for any additional or replacement keys or device

Pets

  • Tenants can keep pets at a rental property with the permission of the landlord
  • A landlord has to apply to VCAT if they wish to challenge this

Property modifications

  • A tenant is able to make certain modifications to a rental property without the landlord’s consent.  These have been listed by Consumer Affairs Victoria to include:
    • Hanging picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets
    • Attaching wall anchoring devices to secure items of furniture
    • Installing LED light globes which do not require new light fittings
    • Installing low flow shower heads provided the original shower head is kept
    • Adding new blind or cord anchors
    • Mounting child safety gates on walls
    • Installing security lights, alarm systems or security cameras that don’t impact on the privacy of neighbours and can easily be removed from the premises and are not hardwired to the premises
    • Installing a wireless doorbell
    • Replacing curtains if the original curtains are retained by the renter
    • Installing adhesive child safety locks on drawers and doors
    • Installing pressure mounted child safety gates
    • Installing a lock on a letterbox
  • A landlord can refuse a modification if it would contravene any owners corporation rules
  • If a rental premises is listed under the Heritage Act 2017 (Vic), a tenant will need to see approval from the landlord for some modification

The new laws seek to extend tenant rights and landlord obligations with full details of these changes at Consumer Affairs Victoria or if you have any concerns regarding these changes, please do not hesitate to contact our conveyancing and property development lawyer on 03 9614 7111 or email us at melbourne@nevettford.com.au.