Almost 12 months ago, the rest of the legislation changes came in (March 2021). As a property management specialist agency, I’m constantly surprised to be talking to rental providers that leased their home in the last year – and still have no idea about compliance certificates for example. So if you’re not 100% familiar about the things you need to know as a rental provider, keep reading or reach out to us – because you don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of these changes.
Fixed price rentals
Agents must specify a fixed rental price on listings – agents and rental providers can not invite applicants to submit ‘rental bids’ above the asking price.
Maximum bond amounts
A bond equivalent to a maximum of one month’s rent can be requested from new renters for properties under $900/week. A rental provider can request an additional bond amount for long-term rental agreements if the renter has been in place for more than five years and there has been at least 120 days’ notice.
Basic minimum standards
Thankfully, we do not come across with owners who try to lease sub standard properties (as an agent, if we did, we would run the other way). Minimum standards have now been listed and as such, rental properties must now conform to basic standards in their rental properties, these mainly include:
- The installation of shower heads with an efficiency rating of 3 or above
- A cooktop with two or more burners
- A fixed heater in good working order in the main living room
- Curtains or blinds to be fitted to any room that is likely to be used as a bedroom or living area (although this was specified in the legislation change it is only just about to come into effect from March 29, 2022)
- The fixed heater will be required to be energy efficient, for example with an energy efficiency rating of at least 2 (from 2023)
Smoke alarms – Smoke alarms must be installed in all Victorian homes, units, flats and townhouses (this we already knew these were a good idea but the age of your house may complicate which alarm you need). Rental providers are responsible for fitting smoke alarms in rental properties. Hard-wired smoke alarms with a battery back-up must be installed in all buildings constructed after 1 August 1997. Buildings constructed before that date may have a battery-powered smoke alarm. Smoke alarms must be tested annually in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
Adding onto that – if it is a hard wired alarm, you need a ‘suitably qualified person’ to test the alarm, which is generally more than just pressing the button every year.
Gas and electrical safety checks – Safety checks for gas and electrical re compulsory every two years. This must be done by 2023, or, prior to leasing or renewing a lease at your property.
Renters can now pay up to $2500 for an urgent repair and be reimbursed by the rental provider if they have made a reasonable attempt to contact the rental provider or agent and did not receive an immediate response. Previously this amount was $1800. The following are examples of urgent repairs:
- Burst water service
- Blocked or broken toilet system
- Serious roof leak
- Gas leak
- Dangerous electrical fault
- Flooding or serious flood damage
- Failure or breakdown of any essential service or appliance provided by a rental provider or agent for hot water, water, cooking, heating or laundering
- Failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
- Any fault or damage on the premises that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
- An appliance, fitting or fixture that is not working properly and causes a substantial amount of water to be wasted
- A serious fault in a lift or staircase
Modifications by a renter (fixtures and alterations)
Renters may now make certain modifications to a rental property without requesting the Rental Provider’s approval (e.g. installation of picture hooks other than on an exposed brick or concrete wall and certain security devices. For modifications where rental provider approval is required it may not be unreasonably withheld. A additional bond can be requested for certain alterations to cover the cost of rectification works at the end of the tenancy – but that’s another discussion.
Renters and pets
Renters may keep pets at their property with the consent of the rental provider. If the rental provider would like to refuse permission, they must apply to VCAT for an order that it is reasonable to do so. If a tenant fails to seek consent, a notice to vacate can be issued due to the renter having an unapproved pet at the property. Realistically though, unless there is a very obvious reason why the tenant can’t have a pet (think sheep dog in a studio apartment), VCAT is unlikely to decline the pet upon application by the rental provider to have it excluded from the tenancy.
Ending a tenancy – Evictions for repeated late rents
Under the new rules, when a renter pays overdue rent within 14 days, any Notice to Vacate issued by the rental provider for that overdue rent is no longer valid. This style of rental default can occur four times over a 12-month period. If rent is late a fifth time within that 12 month period, the rental provider can apply to VCAT for a possession order. VCAT may choose to then place the renter on a payment plan rather than proceed with a possession order. After 12 months – the 5 strikes starts again.
Other valid reasons for ending a tenancy
Rental providers may not issue a ‘no specified reason’ Notice to Vacate. Valid reasons to issue a Notice to Vacate include: sale, change of use, demolition or intention for the owner to reoccupy or end of a fixed term tenancy – this last option only applies to the first lease and time frames for service apply.
Under the reforms, a Notice to Vacate may now be issued for a new reason: ‘endangering safety’. This can be invoked if the Renter or a visitor of the Renter endangers the safety of the Rental Provider, neighbours, agents or contractors.
For more in depth info, reach out to us for a chat!