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Hodges Real Estate

Residential Tenancies Amendment Act

What you need to know about the new rental law changes in Victoria.

The widely anticipated amendments to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act will come into effect on the 29th of March 2021. This date marks the expected conclusion of the Covid19 Emergency Legislations and rental moratorium. The new laws will further expand the rights and responsibilities of Renters and Residential Rental Providers (landlords) in Victoria. Below is a summary of some of the key changes coming into effect from March 29 2021.

 

Terminology changes

+ Tenants will now be known as Renters

+ Landlords will be known as Residential Rental Providers

+ Tenancy Agreements will now be Rental Agreements

+ Rooming House Owners will now be Rooming House Operators

 

Bond

Where rent is less then $900 a week, Residential Rental Providers and their Property Managers are only able to accept the equivalent of one month’s rent as bond.

 

Property Conditions and Repairs

Rental providers (landlords) must ensure the rental property is provided and maintained in good repair and is in a reasonably fit and suitable condition for occupation. This applies regardless of the amount of rent paid or the property’s age and character.

When repairs are required, only a suitably qualified person (licenced or registered professional) may be employed by the rental provider to conduct repairs. This applies to both urgent and non-urgent repairs.

Urgent Repairs

Urgent repairs now include repairs or replacements relating to air conditioning, safety devices and any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure, including pest infestations, or mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure.

The rental provider must carry out urgent repairs after being notified. A renter may arrange for urgent repairs to be done if the renter has taken reasonable steps to arrange for the rental provider to immediately do the repairs and the rental provider has not carried out the repairs.

If the renter has arranged for urgent repairs, the renter may be reimbursed directly by the rental provider for the reasonable cost of repairs up to $2500.

Rental providers must pay back renters for the cost of urgent repairs (or replacement if the fault cannot be repaired) within seven days of the renter giving written notice of the reasonable cost of the repairs.

When conducting a replacement of any electrical, gas or water supplied appliances, the replacement item must meet or exceed the regulated energy efficiency rating.

3 Star Rating – All appliances, fixtures and fittings that supply water.

+ 2 Star Rating – Non-ducted air conditioner, heat pump or gas space heater.

Exceptions are made due to age nature or structure of the plumbing/electrical in the rented premises. If a replacement with a 3 star rating cannot be installed or, when installed will not operate effectively— a replacement with the highest rating in the efficiency rating system that will operate effectively can be installed.

Examples

If a 3 star rated tap or shower rose does not produce sufficient water pressure because of the age of the plumbing, a one or 2 star rated tap or shower rose may be installed.

If a 2 star rated tap or shower rose cannot operate effectively, a one star rated tap or shower rose may be installed.

 

 

Mandatory Disclosure       

From the 29th of March 2021, prior to entering into a residential rental agreement, a residential rental provider must disclose the following information to the renter—

*A disclosure form will be provided to the rental provider by the Property Manager. If you do not have it please request one.

if the residential rental provider has engaged an agent to sell the rented premises or prepared a contract of sale, that there is a proposal to sell the rented premises;

if a mortgagee has commenced a proceeding to enforce a mortgage over the rented premises, that a mortgagee is taking action for possession of the rented premises;

if the residential rental provider is not the owner of the rented premises, that the residential rental provider has a right to let the rented premises;

if the rented premises are supplied with electricity from an embedded electricity network, the prescribed details of the operator of the embedded electricity network;

+any other prescribed information in relation to the rented premises.

if the rented premises or common property is known by the residential rental provider to have been the location of a homicide in the last 5 years;

if the rented premises comply with the rental minimum standards;

on and from 31 December 2021, if the residential rental provider has received a repair notice, in the last 3 years, relating to mould or damp in the premises caused by or related to the building structure;

the date of the most recent gas safety check, electrical safety check, and pool barrier compliance check, (if required), for the rented premises;

any outstanding recommendations for work to be completed from a gas safety check and electrical safety check;

if the rented premises is a registered place (Heritage listed)

if the rented premises is known by the residential rental provider—

+ to be contaminated because of prior use of the rented premises for the trafficking or cultivation of a drug of dependence in the last 5 years; or

+ to have friable or non-friable asbestos based on an inspection by a suitably qualified person; or

+ to be affected by a building or planning application that has been lodged with the relevant authority;

if the rented premises or common property is known by the residential rental provider to be the subject of any notice, order, declaration, report or recommendation issued by a relevant building surveyor, municipal building surveyor, public authority or government department relating to any building defects or safety concerns associated with the rented premises or common property at the time of disclosure, a description of the notice, order, declaration, report or recommendation;

Example:

Any building notices or orders, reports or recommendations issued by the Victorian Building Authority, local councils, relevant building surveyors, or municipal building surveyors that relate to any building defects or safety concerns such as the presence of combustible cladding, water leaks or structural issues affecting the rented premises or common property.

+ if there is a current domestic building work dispute under the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 which applies to or affects the rented premises;

+ if there is a current dispute under Part 10 of the Owners Corporations Act 2006 which applies to or affects the rented premises;

+ a copy of any owners corporation rules applicable to the rented premises.

 

 

Modifications to rented premises

From March 29th 2021, renters may make the following modifications to all premises without the consent of the rental provider –

+ installation of non-permanent window film for insulation, reduced heat transfer or privacy; and

installation of a wireless doorbell; and

replacement of curtains if the original curtains are retained by the renter; and

installation of adhesive child safety locks on drawers and doors; and

installation of pressure mounted child safety gates; and

installation of a lock on a letterbox.

 

From March 29th 2021, renters may make the following modifications to a non registered place (e.g. Heritage listed) without the consent of the rental provider –

installation of picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets on surfaces other than exposed brick or concrete walls; and

installation of wall anchoring devices on surfaces other than exposed brick or concrete walls to secure items of furniture; and

installation of LED light globes which do not require new light fittings; and

installation of a water efficient shower head if the original shower head is retained; and

installation of blind or cord anchors; and

installation of security lights, alarm systems or security cameras that—

(A) do not impact on the privacy of neighbours; and

Example

A renter must not install a security camera or security light that directly faces a neighbouring premises.

(B) can be easily removed from the rented premises; and

(C) are not hardwired to the rented premises; and

installation of hardware-mounted child safety gates on walls (other than exposed brick or concrete walls);

 

From March 29th 2021, rental providers must not unreasonably refuse consent for –

installation of picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets on exposed brick or concrete walls;

installation of hardware-mounted child safety gates on exposed brick or concrete walls;

installation of wall anchoring devices on exposed brick or concrete walls to secure items of furniture;

draughtproofing in homes without open-flued gas heating, including installing weather seals, caulking or gap filling around windows, doors, skirting and floorboards;

installation by a suitably qualified person of a security system which does not impact on the privacy of neighbours if an invoice with the name of the installer is provided to the residential rental provider at the time the consent is requested;

Example

A residential rental provider may reasonably refuse a request to install a security camera or security light that directly faces a neighbouring premises.

installation of flyscreens on doors and windows;

installation of a vegetable or herb garden;

installation of a secure letterbox;

painting of the rented premises;

modifications to secure external gates in rented premises that are not multi-unit dwellings;

any modification which contributes to the conservation within the meaning of section 3(1) of the Heritage Act 2017 of a registered place and is proposed to be undertaken in accordance with Part 5 of that Act.

 

Transitional Arrangements

If a rental agreement is:

+ a fixed-term rental agreement starting on or after 29 March 2021, or

+ a periodic (month-to-month) rental agreement which commenced on or after 29 March 2021

all new rental laws apply to this agreement.

 

If a rental agreement is:

+ a fixed-term rental agreement that started before 29 March 2021, or

+ a periodic (month-to-month) rental agreement which commenced before 29 March 2021

then nearly all new rental laws apply to the agreement.

 

The laws that do not apply to existing agreements include laws relating to:

disclosure requirements, invalid or prohibited terms, and discrimination in rental agreements

rent payments, restrictions on rent in advance and rent increases,

rental minimum standards

safety related activities

condition reports.

 

Minimum Standards

 

Locks

All external entry doors to the rented premises which are not able to be secured with a functioning deadlock, other than any screen door attached to an external door, must at least be fitted with a locking device that—

is operated by a key from the outside; and

may be unlocked from the inside with or without a key.

Subclause (1) does not apply—

to a public lobby door that opens to common property; or

if the rented premises is a registered place and a request for a permit to alter the relevant features of the premises to comply with this standard has been refused in accordance with Part 5 of the Heritage Act 2017.

 

Vermin proof bins

A rubbish bin and a recycling bin are to be supplied for use by the renter of the rented premises which are—

(a) provided by the local council; or

(b) vermin proof and compatible with local council collection.

 

Toilets

The rented premises are to contain a toilet that is—

(a) in good working order, connected to—

(i) a reticulated sewerage system; or

(ii) a wastewater treatment system permitted under the Code of practice – onsite wastewater management, published under the Environment Protection Act 1970; or

(iii) any other system approved by the local council; and

(b) either in—

(i) a room that is intended to be used as a toilet area, whether as a separate toilet or bathroom or combined bathroom and laundry; or

(ii) a separate enclosed structure that is intended to be used as a toilet area.

 

Bathroom facilities

In relation to bathroom facilities, the following amenities are to be provided in the rented premises—

(a) a bathroom connected to a reasonable supply of hot and cold water that contains a washbasin and a shower or bath;

(b) if a shower is present—

(i) a shower head with a 3 star rating in the rating system referred to in regulation 23(1)(a); or

(ii) a shower head with a one or 2 star rating if a shower head with a 3 star rating—

(A) cannot be installed; or

(B) if installed, will not operate effectively due to the age, nature or structure of the plumbing of the premises.

 

Kitchen facilities

(1) In relation to kitchen facilities, the following amenities are to be provided in the rented premises—

(a) a dedicated area which is intended to be used for cooking and food preparation;

(b) a sink in good working order that is connected to a reasonable supply of hot and cold water;

(c) a cooktop in good working order that has 2 or more burners.

(2) Subclause (1) does not apply if the rented premises is a registered place and a request for a permit to alter the relevant features of the premises to comply with this standard has been refused in accordance with Part 5 of the Heritage Act 2017.

(3) Any oven at the rented premises must be in good working order.

 

Laundry facilities

Any laundry facilities present in the rented premises must be connected to a reasonable supply of hot and cold water.

 

Structural soundness

The rented premises are to be structurally sound and weatherproof.

 

Mould and dampness

Each room in the rented premises must be free from mould and damp caused by or related to the building structure.

 

Electrical safety

On and from 29 March 2023, in relation to electrical safety, all power outlets and lighting circuits in the rented premises are to be connected to—

(a) a switchboard-type Circuit Breaker that complies with AS/NZS 3000, “Electrical Installations”, as published from time to time; and

(b) a switchboard-type Residual Current Device that complies with—

(i) AS/NZS 3190, “Approval and test specification—Residual current devices (current operated earth-leakage devices)”, as published from time to time; or

(ii) AS/NZS 61008.1, “Residual current operated circuit-breakers without integral overcurrent protection for household and similar uses (RCBOs): Part 1: General rules”, as published from time to time; or

(iii) AS/NZS 61009.1, “Residual current operated circuit-breakers with integral overcurrent protection for household and similar uses (RCCBs) Part 1: General rules”, as published from time to time.

 

Window coverings

On and from 29 March 2022, each window in a room at the rented premises that is likely to be used as a bedroom or as a living area is to be fitted with a curtain or blind that can be opened or closed by the renter to—

(a) reasonably block light; and

(b) provide reasonable privacy to the renter.

 

Windows

(1) All external windows in the rented premises that are capable of opening must be able to be set in a closed or open position.

(2) All external windows in the rented premises which are capable of opening must have a functioning latch to secure the windows against external entry.

Note – A window lock or bolt will meet the minimum standard referred to in subclause (2).

 

Lighting

(1) The interior rooms, corridors and hallways of the rented premises are to have access to light, whether natural or artificial, which provides a level of illuminance appropriate to the function or use of those rooms.

(2) Each habitable room of the rented premises is to have access to—

(a) natural light, including borrowed light from an adjoining room, during daylight hours, which provides a level of illuminance appropriate to the function or use of the room; and

(b) artificial light during non-daylight hours which provides a level of illuminance appropriate to the function or use of the room.

(3) Subclauses (1) and (2) do not apply if the rented premises is a registered place and a request for a permit to alter the relevant features of the premises to comply with the standard has been refused in accordance with Part 5 of the Heritage Act 2017.

 

Ventilation

(1) If the rented premises is a Class 1 building, each habitable room, bathroom, shower room, toilet and laundry must have ventilation satisfying Performance Requirement P2.4.5 of the BCA Volume Two, or the Acceptable Construction Practice in Part 3.8.5 of the BCA Volume Two.

(2) If the rented premises is within a Class 2 building, each habitable room, bathroom, shower room, toilet and laundry must have ventilation satisfying Performance Requirements FP4.3, FP4.4 and FP4.5 of the BCA Volume One, or the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions requirements in F4.5, F4.6 and F4.7 of the BCA Volume One.

 

Heating

(1) On and from 29 March 2021 until 28 March 2023, in relation to heating in a Class 1 building—

a fixed heater in good working order is to be in the main living area of the rented premises; or

if a fixed heater has not been installed in the main living area of the rented premises on or by 29 March 2021, an energy efficient fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area of the rented premises.

(2) On and from 29 March 2021 until 28 March 2023, in relation to heating in a Class 2 building—

a fixed heater in good working order is to be in the main living area of the rented premises; or

if a fixed heater has not been installed in the main living area of the rented premises on or by 29 March 2021, an energy efficient fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area of the rented premises unless it would be unreasonable to install an energy efficient fixed heater.

(3) On and from 29 March 2023, in relation to heating in a Class 1 building, an energy efficient fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area of the rented premises.

(4) On and from 29 March 2023, in relation to heating in a Class 2 building—

an energy efficient fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area of the rented premises unless it is unreasonable to install an energy efficient fixed heater; or

if it is unreasonable to install an energy efficient fixed heater in the main living area of the rented premises, a fixed heater in good working order is to be installed in the main living area of the rented premises.

(5) For the purposes of subregulations (2)(b) and (4) it would be unreasonable to install an energy efficient fixed heater if—

the cost of installation would be significantly higher than the average price of installation in a Class 2 building; or

owners corporation rules prohibit installation of the appliance; or

compliance with any other Act or local law makes the cost of installation prohibitive.

(6) In this clause—

energy efficient fixed heater means—

a non-ducted air conditioner or heat pump with a 2 star or above heating rating in the prescribed energy rating system for non-ducted air conditioners or heat pumps; or

a gas space heater with a 2 star or above heating rating in the prescribed energy rating system for gas space heaters; or

a ducted heating or hydronic heating system which has an outlet in the main living area of the rented premises; or

a domestic solid fuel burning appliance;

fixed heater means a heater that is not designed or manufactured to be portable.

 

Safety Activities

 

Electrical safety activities

The residential rental provider must ensure that an electrical safety check of all electrical installations, appliances and fittings provided by a residential rental provider in the rented premises is conducted every 2 years by a licensed or registered electrician and must provide the renter with the date of the most recent safety check, in writing, on request by the renter.

If an electrical safety check of the rented premises has not been conducted within the last 2 years at the time the renter occupies the premises, the residential rental provider must arrange an electrical safety check as soon as practicable.

 

Gas safety activities

The safety-related activities in subclauses (2) and (3) only apply if the rented premises contain any appliances, fixtures or fittings which use or supply gas.

The residential rental provider must ensure that a gas safety check of all gas installations and fittings in the rented premises is conducted every 2 years by a licensed or registered gasfitter and must provide the renter with the date of the most recent safety check, in writing, on request by the renter.

If a gas safety check has not been conducted within the last 2 years at the time the renter occupies the premises, the residential rental provider must arrange a gas safety check as soon as practicable.

 

Smoke alarm safety activities

The residential rental provider must ensure that—

each smoke alarm is correctly installed and in working condition; and

– each smoke alarm is tested according to the manufacturer’s instructions at least once every 12 months; and

– the batteries in each smoke alarm are replaced as required.

The residential rental provider must immediately arrange for a smoke alarm to be repaired or replaced as an urgent repair if they are notified by the renter that it is not in working order. Note Repair or replacement of a hard-wired smoke alarm must be undertaken by a suitably qualified person.

+The residential rental provider, on or before the commencement of the residential rental agreement, must provide the renter with the following information in writing—

information about how each smoke alarm in the rented premises operates;

information about how to test each smoke alarm in the rented premises;

information about the renter’s obligations to not tamper with any smoke alarms and to report if a smoke alarm in the rented premises is not in working order.

The renter must give written notice to the residential rental provider as soon as practicable after becoming aware that a smoke alarm in the rented premises is not in working order.

Note – Regulations made under the Building Act 1993 require smoke alarms to be installed in all residential buildings

 

Swimming pool barrier safety activities

(1) The safety-related activities in subclauses (2), (3) and (4) only apply if the rented premises contains a swimming pool.

(2) The residential rental provider must ensure that the swimming pool barrier is maintained in good repair.

(3) The renter must give written notice to the residential rental provider as soon as practicable after becoming aware that the swimming pool barrier is not in working order.

(4) The rental provider must arrange for the swimming pool barrier to be immediately repaired or replaced as an urgent repair if they are notified by the renter that it is not in working order.

 

Relocatable swimming pool safety activities

The safety-related activities in subclauses (2) and (3) only apply if a relocatable swimming pool is erected, or is intended to be erected, on the rented premises.

The renter must not erect a relocatable swimming pool without prior written notice to the residential rental provider.

The renter must obtain any necessary approvals before erecting a relocatable swimming pool.

Note – Regulations made under the Building Act 1993 apply to any person erecting a relocatable swimming pool. These safety-related activities do not apply to a swimming pool or spa that is not capable of containing water to a depth greater than 300 mm.

 

Bushfire prone area activities

(1) This safety-related activity only applies if the rented premises is in a bushfire prone area and is required to have a water tank for bushfire safety.

(2) If the rented premises is in a designated bushfire prone area under section 192A of the Building Act 1993, and a water tank is required for firefighting purposes, the residential rental provider must ensure that the water tank and any connected infrastructure is maintained in good repair, as required.

(3) The water tank must be full and clean at the commencement of the residential rental agreement.

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