Renting? Here’s what you need to know about new tenancy laws

Knowing your rights as a renter can be difficult.

Can you put up hooks to hang pictures? What can you do if your place needs urgent repairs? Can your landlord just give notice to vacate without a reason?
Since 29 March 2021, the answers to these questions have all changed with new rental laws taking effect in Victoria.   

“The new laws clarify the rights and responsibilities of both renters – from before you sign a rental agreement, until after the agreement ends – and apply to all types of tenancies, including private rentals, caravan and residential parks, and rooming houses,” explains Consumer Affairs Victoria Director, Nicole Rich.

We’ve rounded up some of the major changes that could have a big impact on you as a renter. Whether you’re looking to rent, already renting or leaving a lease – find out what’s changed.  

Goodbye excessive bonds

Have you ever worried about paying a bond that you thought was too expensive? Bonds are now capped to stop this. If your weekly rent is $900 or less your bond will be capped at 4 weeks rent. So, if you pay $900 or less per week your bond needs to be less than or equal to 4 weeks of rent.

Don’t lose your dream home to a bidding war

Finding a place that you love, in the right location, with the right budget can be tricky. It can be even trickier when agents and rental providers invite rent bidding from prospective renters, meaning that people can bid a higher rent to ‘win’ the lease.

This practice is now illegal. This means you should never be asked to make a higher bid or offer on a place than what was advertised. This should make the rental market a little fairer and will give you a better chance of getting that perfect place.

Looking to learn more about the new rental laws?

If you’re in Melbourne come to the free event ‘New Rent Rules – Ask us about your responsibilities and rights’ at the State Library of Victoria on Monday 17 May 2021.

Rent increases will be less frequent   

In the past your rental provider might have put your rent up a couple of times in a year as previously rent increases were possible every six months.

Under the new laws, in most cases, your rental provider can only increase your rent once every 12 months. To see if this change applies to you check out the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Yes, you can now hang up that painting

Do you know what changes you can make to the place you rent? The new rent rules allow renters more options to make their house a home.  

You’re now allowed to make more changes and modifications to your place without getting approval from your rental provider, including installing wireless doorbells, shower heads, adhesive child locks and yes, even picture hooks!

But before you make any changes make sure you check out the full list of modifications you can make, and their specific details, on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Want to find out more about your new rights and responsibilities as a renter?

Check out our full list of free events for renters to learn more about how these new laws affect you:

Now you can get stuff fixed yourself

It can be very stressful if your home needs urgent repairs. Under law these repairs must be made quickly because they might make your home unsafe or difficult to live in. Now more things are covered as being ‘urgent repairs’, including issues with mould and damp, some air conditioners, smoke detectors and pest infestation.

If you are able to, you can arrange to get these issues fixed by an accredited professional. If you do this your rental provider must repay you for this cost. This is to a maximum of $2,500, within 7 days of written notice of the issue. If you can’t take this option your rental provider is still required to fix these urgent repairs. Find out more about what your entitled to get fixed on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.  

Your home should meet minimum standards

Did you know that under new rental agreements, rental providers are required to provide minimum standards for rental properties? New minimum standards are now in place to ensure that rental properties meet the basic standards that most people would expect in a home. These include having a functioning stove in the kitchen, running hot and cold water in the kitchen and bathroom and permanent working heating.

Some rental minimum standards have been delayed so your rental provider has more time to prepare – these include standards for window coverings, electrical safety, and energy efficient heaters. Find out more about these standards so that you always know what you’re entitled to if something in your house seems a bit wrong. Check out the full list of minimum standards on the Consumer Affairs Website.

Want to learn more about your rights and minimum standards? If your based in the Caroline Springs region come to the free event ‘Know your rights – tenancy & tenants’ rights’ on Tuesday 18 May 2021.

You need to be given a proper reason to vacate

Have you ever been given notice to leave a lease without a reason? You cannot be evicted without a valid reason, including a sale, change of use, or if the owner is moving back in.

Rental providers are now required to provide a reason with your notice to vacate – and not just any reason, but a valid reason. This includes a sale, change of use, or if the owner is moving back in. This is important because you can challenge this reason if you believe that it is not valid. If you’re successful in this, you might get to keep your lease. This applies to all situations except for ‘end of fixed term’ notices to vacate.

Looking to dive a little deeper and learn more about your rights as a tenant? Join the free webinar ‘Victoria’s rental laws have changed, know your rights as a tenant’ on Tuesday 18 May 2021.

“Renting is being made easier with clearer rights and responsibilities for both renters and rental providers. The new rules increase protections for renters, while ensuring rental providers can effectively manage their properties.” says Consumer Affairs Victoria Director, Nicole Rich.

Want to learn more about these new laws and about your rights as a tenant? Come along and check out these events at Victorian Law Week 2021.

Looking to find answers to other legal

Check out the full program of free events for Victorian Law Week