The Victorian Parliament has temporarily amended the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) to give effect in Victoria to the National Cabinet’s commitment to a temporary eviction moratorium and to make further broad ranging changes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Covid-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 also pushes back the remaining reforms in the RT Amendment Act, and these are now due to start on, or by, 1 January 2021.
The new Act makes broad and retrospective changes to residential tenancies law by introducing a new Part 16 into the RTA for a six-month period from 29 March 2020. This will require Community Housing Organisations to immediately change work practices to ensure they comply.
The changes include:
- A ban on increases to rent payable, and a ban on the service of notices of rent increases.
- A ban on the use of Notices to Vacate and voiding notices already served unless the termination date is prior to 29 March 2020.
- Limiting the grounds on which a tenancy can be terminated.
- The introduction of an alternative tenancy termination process whereby landlords will need to make an application to VCAT to end a tenancy.
- Establishment of the office of the Chief Dispute Resolution Officer (CDRO) for resolving disputes, and providing that the Director of CAV will appoint to that office.
- Provision for a Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Scheme with broad powers, which will be outlined in regulation but allow for information sharing between the CDRO and VCAT. It will also enable the CDRO to make binding orders regarding disputes that would normally be determined at VCAT.
- Bringing forward amendments contained in the RT amendment Act to protect victims of family violence.