Some Provisions from the Tenancy Law and What’s In It for Tenants and Landlords

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 contains the biggest reforms to renting in Victoria’s history. With the changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the provisions in the act are needed now more than ever.

 

It was said that over two million Victorians are living on rental properties. The pandemic lockdowns have heavily impacted the lives of many Victorians and the government is after the comfort of their people — looking at the current tenancy laws is one of their solutions. Strengthening the rights of the renters, the properties are indispensable to be safe, structurally sound and fit for habitation.

 

The tenancy act took 18 months of preparation before it takes full effect in March of this year. The long preparation period was hoped to give ample time for both the tenant and landlord to make the necessary arrangements before the changes roll out. Provisions to the regulations were formed and written after deliberating the feedback from 700+ submissions as a part of the public consultation process. This is to ensure that both interests of the tenants and landlords are protected.

 

Technological terms revisions

According to the act, the tenants will now be regarded as “renters” and landlords will be called “rental providers.” This prompts a shift in responsibilities of the two parties. Rental providers are expected to improve the standard of living for renters.

 

On minor modifications to the property

From March 29, 2021 onwards, the renters will be able to install minor modifications to the property. These minor modifications include:

  • Picture hooks, screws, wall mounts, shelves and brackets
  • Wall anchoring devices
  • LED lights that don’t require new light fittings
  • Blind or cord anchors
  • Water-efficient shower heads
  • Child-safety devices, adhesive safety locks on drawers and doors
  • Security lights, alarms and cameras that do not pose privacy threat to neighbouring properties
  • Non-permanent window film for additional insulation
  • Wireless doorbell
  • Letterbox lock
  • Replacement curtains

The modifications, however, are required to be reversed when the renters vacate the property. Renters are expected to vacate the property with the same condition as they first occupied it.

 

On meeting rental property standards

The minimum rental standards cover the following criteria: amenity, safety and privacy of the renter. Starting March 29, a rental agreement would take effect if the property met the following criteria:

  • Locks – all entry doors should be secured with a functioning deadlock
  • Vermin-proof bins – recycling bins that adhere to the local council collection standards must be supplied
  • Bathrooms – with hot and cold water, wash basin, shower or bath, and a toilet in good working order
  • Kitchen – must have dedicated area for cooking and food preparation that includes a sink, a countertop and an oven in a good condition
  • Laundry – should be connected to a reasonable supply of hot and cold water
  • Windows – must be fitted with a curtain or blinds to provide ample lighting and privacy especially if the area will be used as a bedroom or living room.
  • Lighting – must have access to adequate lighting whether artificial or natural
  • Heating – A fixed heater in a good working condition must be installed in the main living area.

       

On owning pets

Renters may now own pets without rental providers’ permission. Concerns about pet ownership have been raised for the previous years which caused distress and grief to tenants who own pets. 

 

On arrears

The provisions in this new law provides fair boundaries and limitations to both renters and rental providers. According to the law, if the renter falls into arrears but pays back overdue rent within 14 days, the notice to vacate that was issued before the payment was made will be voided. This applies to the first 4 occurrences in a 12-month period. On the fifth time in the same 12-month period, the rental provider may issue a notice to vacate and may file a possession order to VCAT.

 

The reforms have garnered mixed reactions from both renters and rental providers. Just like any revision that came into law, there will be adjustments that will be made by both parties. For the full list of provisions, download our simplified list of provisions or  you can head over to Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website

Posted in Blogs on 18th February, 2021