The Andrews Labor Government has unveiled landmark new laws to make renting fair for all Victorians.
Premier Daniel Andrews said, “We said we’d make renting fair, and we’re delivering. These reforms will help ensure everyone who rents has a safe, secure and affordable home to call their own.”
In the biggest change to the Residential Tenancies Act since it was implemented more than two decades ago, the Labor Government has announced more than 130 reforms that will strengthen renters’ rights, better protect vulnerable tenants and enable people to turn the house they rent into a home.
More than one in four Victorians rent their home, a number that is increasing as it becomes more difficult for many Victorians to break into the housing market. They need and deserve better protection.
Reforms in the Bill will ensure every rental home meets basic standards – with functioning stoves, heating and deadlocks. It will also require landlords to meet basic safety standards for gas, electricity and smoke alarms.
The legislation will also crack down on rental bidding, limit rent increases to once a year and cap bonds at four weeks rent.
Renters will be given the right to make minor modifications – such as nailing a hook on the wall or installing anchors to stop furniture falling on children – without first obtaining the landlords consent.
Protections for pet owners will be stronger, with residential rental providers only able to refuse the right of a tenant to have a pet by order of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Rights of entry and photography when a rental property is being sold will be clarified, as will rules to deal with goods left by a renter at the end of a tenancy.
To make it quicker for renters to get their bond back, tenants will be able to apply for the release of bond without written consent from their landlord, who will have 14 days to raise a dispute before it is repaid automatically.
People will also be able to terminate rental agreements in situations of family violence. The change will ensure victims are not held liable for the debts of their abusers, implementing the Royal Commission into Family Violence’s recommendation to better protect and support victims of family violence living in rental housing.
The reforms also give certainty to people in caravan and residential parks, providing access to compensation if their park closes.