The 29th of March 2021 marks the introduction of a number of rental law changes in Victoria.
The changes take the form of the new Residential Tenancies Regulations Act 2021. According to Consumer Affairs Victoria, the state’s consumer regulator, they are designed to make renting in Victoria fairer and safer, by expanding the rights and responsibilities of both renters and landlords.
The changes are many and varied, and span the entire lifecycle of a rental agreement, from before you sign until after it concludes. To ensure compliance with the reforms, PropertyMe has introduced several small adjustments for their Victorian users.
The major changes and their effects
The Residential Tenancies Regulations Act 2021 represents significant change in many areas of property, and as the experts who facilitate these transactions, the responsibility for implementing these changes will fall largely on the shoulders of property managers and agency principals.
The changes are extensive, stretching across categories like starting a tenancy, living in or leaving a rental, repairs and modifications, long-term leases, and rooming houses.
Some of the more notable amendments include:
- Eviction evidence: A temporary COVID measure has now turned permanent: you’ll no longer be able to evict a renter without giving a specific reason.
- Longer terms: The ability for renters and rental providers (property managers/landlords) to enter into a fixed-term rental agreement of longer than five years. You’ll need to fill in specific paperwork in this case.
- No soliciting: Rental providers (previously referred to as landlords) and estate agents must advertise or offer rental properties at a fixed price. You are banned from inviting rental bids or soliciting offers of rent higher than the advertised price.
- Information requests: Rental providers and agents cannot request information deemed inappropriate. This includes bank statements with daily transactions, and histories of disputes with former rental providers.
- Anti-discrimination guidelines: Rental agreement forms must include information about unlawful discrimination.
- Right of entry: There are more detailed rules around rights of entry for the rental provider - any excuse will no longer do.
- Urgent repairs: Things like smoke alarms, pool fences, air-conditioning, pest infestations and mould (caused by the building structure) are now classed as urgent repairs.
- Renter modifications: Renters will be able to make minor modifications without permission from the owner, though the costs will need to come from their own pocket, unless they are a repair or safety issue.
- Better access to bonds: Renters can apply to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA), without the rental provider’s permission, to have all or part of their bond released.
Abiding by new legislation is an inherently complex task - one of wading through endless legislation, understanding your responsibilities, and ensuring that you dot every I and cross every T. However, thanks to some tweaks to the platform, Victorian PropertyMe users will have much of this responsibility lifted off their shoulders.
The adjustments within PropertyMe
The team at PropertyMe has implemented a number of small adjustments to ensure compliance with these new reforms, mainly to our entry and exit condition report formats. These adjustments have also been made in a way that ensures they have minimal effect on the experience of our users.
Here’s a snapshot of how the rental law changes in Victoria have affected what Victorian users will see and do within PropertyMe.
1. Terminology changes
The first change involves a simple switch in terminology:
- The word ‘Tenant’ will be replaced with ‘Renter’.
- ‘Lessor/Agent’ will be replaced with ‘Rental Provider/Agent’.
This is simply to bring this act in line with others, such as the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018.
2. Changes to front page text
Until now the front page of the condition report has featured a block of required text on the right-hand side. This will be removed and replaced with a new block of text that describes the responsibilities of the various parties, as well as the following:
- A ‘date of condition report’ field.
- The text in section 11 of the new legislation to be added beneath the renter’s details.
3. Additional questions
In line with the reforms, a number of questions are being included on our front page, including:
- Is a telephone line connected to the rented premises?
- Is an internet line connected to the rented premises?
- Is the rented premises connected to the national broadband network (NBN)?
- What is the location of NBN connection in the rented premises?
- Date of last smoke alarm test
- Date of last electrical safety check test
- Date of last gas safety check
- Date of last swimming pool barrier compliance check
4. Additional conditions/disclaimers
There are also some minor changes to the end of the condition report. The following words will be added above where the renter puts their final signature:
“I have read the rental provider's/agent's report and agree except where I have commented in this report.”
The following disclaimer will also be added below the signature:
“Note: Each renter must sign this report. Renters should return one copy to the rental provider and keep the other copy in a safe place.”
5. Exit report
Just as the above changes apply to the entry condition report, so too will they apply to the exit condition report.
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