Introduction

The Residential Tenancies Act is the main source of consumer protection for Victorians living in rental housing, while also outlining the obligations of landlords and property managers.

Since it was introduced, there have been many changes, both in the rental market itself, and in the characteristics, needs and expectations of tenants and landlords.

In the past, private rental was commonly a relatively short-term transitional arrangement, which ended in tenants moving to home ownership or in a move to social housing.

This is no longer the case, with growing numbers of Australians in rental housing, and around one-third of private tenants nationally considered to be 'long-term', having rented continuously for over 10 years. An increasing number of long-term tenants are either older people on fixed incomes, or families with children, for whom stability is important.

The reasons why people become and remain landlords have also changed significantly, with rental property becoming an important investment and a key feature of many people’s retirement plans.

The review process

In June 2015, a consultation paper Laying the Groundwork was released. It provided an outline of the Victorian rental market and sought public comment on the effects of different trends in the sector.

From late 2015 to late 2016, public consultation on six issues papers explored a broad spectrum of rental housing issues – from secure tenancies, to protections for people living in caravan parks and residential parks.

In January 2017, a public options paper Heading for Home outlining the outcomes of public consultation was released for final discussion.

Drawing on the options presented in that paper and submissions to the review, a package of reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act is being developed for consideration by the Government.

The reform package is due to be introduced into the Victorian Parliament in 2018.

General advice on renting

For general information and advice on renting, visit the Renting section on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website or call Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

News feed

New reforms designed to make renting fairer

The Victorian Government announced an initial set of reforms that take account of the changing nature of renting, focused particularly on giving tenants a sense of security and support.  

Some of the key reforms include:  

  • a crackdown on rental bidding: agents will have to advertise properties using a single price and, along with landlords, will not be able to solicit rental bids from prospective tenants 
  • removing the 120-day ‘no specified reason’ notice to vacate: landlords will have to give a reason to terminate a tenancy 
  • allowing tenants to more easily keep pets: tenants will have the right to keep pets provided they get the landlord’s written consent first. The landlord will only be able to refuse consent if it is reasonable to do so  
  • faster tenant reimbursement for urgent repairs: when a tenant is out of pocket for undertaking urgent repairs, landlords will have to reimburse them within seven days, instead of the current period of 14 days 
  • automatic bond repayments within 14 days: either party to a tenancy will be able to apply for all or part of the bond without the other party’s agreement. Disputes must be lodged within 14 days; if no dispute is raised, the bond will automatically be released to the applicant 
  • allowing tenants to more easily make minor modifications to the property: a landlord will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent if a tenant asks to make minor modifications. Examples of minor modifications include installing picture hooks, air conditioning or reasonable security measures.  
  • For more information about these initial reforms, visit the Rent Fair Victoria website.

    The Government is carefully considering a wider set of reforms, to be released over the next year.

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