Proposed Changes in Victorian Tenancy Law | Explained

In late 2017, the state government announced a set of legislation changes designed to give tenants more power and control over their residential rental arrangements. The changes come after a review of the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act 1997 conducted by the state found that some regulations were unfair and therefore put tenants at a disadvantage. This naturally impacts upon landlords and property managers, who will need to ensure that they comply with new regulations set out following the review. Here we share a run-down of the key changes you’ll need to be aware of, and how they could affect you and your property investments going forward.


Changes to the way you market your property, and the yield you can expect to gain

The new laws address a variety of previous ‘issues’ within the industry – several of which refer to the way in which you collect revenue on your property. The first of these limits the ability to increase rent more than once within a twelve-month period – previously it was six months. Regulations have also tightened up on the bidding process in an attempt to eliminate situations where tenants are bidding against one another and vying for one property. Properties must be advertised at a fixed price – that means no ranges ‘between or from’. In addition tenants must not be invited to make an offer that is higher than the fixed price in order to secure the property.


Greater rights for tenants

Predominantly these changes were brought in to offer tenants greater security and information – so much of the legislation addresses issues that were previously detrimental to tenants. This includes the removal of the right of the landlord to terminate a tenancy with 120 days’ notice for no specified reason. Another alteration compels landlords to share specific information with tenants before they enter into a Tenancy Agreement with them – including any intention or proposal to sell the property in the future, or the presence of hazards such as asbestos. A blacklist will also be introduced – so that potential tenants are aware of rogue landlords who have breached their obligations under the rules of the Act.


Specific guidelines for long-term tenancies

As part of the changes in legislation a new long-term standard tenancy agreement will be developed which relates specifically to tenancies of five years or more. This is likely to come into force at some point this year – and although the finer details have not been released yet it’s certain that there will be greater protection and provision included for tenants with long-term tenancies.


Pets allowed

Victorians love animals – but despite a large portion of the population possessing four-legged friends, rental properties allowing pets can be hard to come by. This new legislation will come as good news to tenants as it upholds the right of the tenant to pet ownership. Previously the allowance of pets was purely at the discretion of the landlord – now landlords must consider all applications for pets to be kept at the address. Applications that cannot be ‘unreasonably withheld’ – and must be made and accepted in writing. If you aren’t happy about the prospect of pets within your property, consider ways you can mediate the situation now – perhaps through investing in a deep cleaning company, or laying hard floors as opposed to carpets.

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