Minor Residential Tenancies Act reforms begin

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) have announced that selected reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 came into effect on 3 April 2019. All remaining reforms will be fully implemented by July 2020.

The reforms that came into effect on 3 April include suppression of rooming house address details, and a new prescribed agreement for long-term leases.

These may be of interest to some community housing organisations if you are running rooming houses for residents in danger of family violence, or if you are intending to use the new option of running long-term leases.

Suppression of rooming house address details

Rooming house operators can now apply to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria to stop the public from seeing the address of the rooming house on the Rooming Housing Register.

The Director will only restrict public access to the address on the register when there are exceptional circumstances. These may include suppressing the address of a rooming house run by:

  • a housing agency registered under the Housing Act 1983, or
  • a non-government organisation funded to deliver family violence services.

Suppression in these circumstances may be approved to help protect residents threatened by interpersonal or family violence.

Operators and applicants (anyone applying for a rooming house registration to be issued, renewed or transferred) must make their request to the Director in writing. Click here for more information

Long-term leases – new prescribed agreement available

A new prescribed agreement for long-term leases is now available. The agreement includes additional benefits and protections for both rental providers and renters.

For Victorian landlords and tenants seeking security and stability, the new long-term lease agreement provides options for both parties to tailor the terms of the agreement upfront, including rent increases, minor changes to the property and bond top-ups. Use of the new agreement is optional and the standard prescribed tenancy agreement can still be used for long-term leases.

Click here for more information about long-term leases, including the new prescribed long-term tenancy agreement.



RTA reforms announced

Reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act were announced this weekend, and CHIA Vic expects the full details of all the proposed changes will soon be made public.

Reforms in the Bill include requirements for rental homes to meet basic standards, including safety standards for gas, electricity and smoke alarms.

Other changes relevant to the community housing industry include:

  • rent increases limited to once a year
  • renters will have the ability to make minor modifications without needing consent of the landlord
  • clearer rules on how to deal with goods left behind
  • written consent of the landlord will no longer be required to release bond, although landlords will have 14 days to raise a dispute
  • tenants will be able to terminate rental agreements if in a family violence situation

We will let you know when the details of the changes are released.

Read the media release
See the Rent Fair reforms
See full details of the review and consultation on the reforms:

Residential Tenancies Act Reforms

The Victorian Government has issued a media release announcing proposed reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act, including:

  • ‘Cracking down on rental bidding’ by mandating that rentals be advertised at a fixed price and ensuring that prospective tenants cannot be invited to make an offer at a price higher than the fixed price.
  • Limiting rent increases to once a year.
  • Abolishing ‘no specified reason’ notices to vacate.
  • Placing new restrictions on ending leases without a reason at the end of a lease when that lease has lasted more than one fixed term.
  • Giving every tenant the right to own a pet. While landlords will still need to provide consent, they will only be able refuse in certain circumstances.
  • Making it easier for tenants to make minor modifications to a rental property, such as installing hooks for picture frames.
  • Ensuring faster reimbursements for tenants who pay for urgent repairs.
  • Capping bonds at one month’s rent where the rent is twice the current median weekly rent – currently equivalent to $760 per week or less.
  • Tenants will be able to apply for the release of their bond without written consent from their landlord, who will have 14 days to raise a dispute before the bond is repaid automatically.
  • Introducing a landlord and estate agent blacklist available to renters.
  • False, misleading, and deceptive claims by landlords will be outlawed.
  • A new Commissioner for Residential Tenancies will be set up to help champion the rights of Victorian renters and give them a voice in future reform of renting laws over the years to come.

The media release focuses on the proposed changes that improve rights for tenants.  A list of these specific suggestions can be found at rentfair.vic.gov.au   At this stage there is no more comprehensive document that looks at all the other changes to the Act that were canvassed during the two-year consultation period.

Many of the proposed improvements to the rights of tenants are long overdue and a good thing. The only areas of potential concern for housing managers are the removal of the 120-day NTV for no specified reason and the new provisions for pets.

Most registered housing associations and providers use the 120-day notice and believe that this option should be retained. There are strong arguments for removing it as well, given the potential for misuse in the private rental market.

The effect of its removal for CHOs will very much depend on whether the new legislation includes some of the earlier suggestions we made regarding dealing more effectively with tenants that are causing danger, damage and anti-social behaviour; providing for housing worker and contractor safety; and, being able to terminate transitional tenancies where tenants have refused a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation. None of these suggestions are mentioned in the media release.

Most of the proposed changes regarding pets should be fine and are fairly close to current practice for the community sector. However, the Rentfair website specifically says that ‘landlords cannot refuse consent for assistance dogs’, which could be a problem if this included rooming houses.

Click here to leave your comments on these two issues or any others.

From here on, there will be a more detailed document released by the end of the year and a targeted consultation, hopefully including CHIA Vic, regarding the draft bill early next year.