RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES AMENDMENT ACT 2018 DELAYED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
The start date of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 has been delayed due to coronavirus (COVID-19), with the amendments to be introduced by 29 March 2021, rather than the original 1 July 2020. Note: The Government has replicated a small number of provisions from the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 into the new laws addressing the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19. These provisions relate to family violence and rental agreements. Consumer Affairs Victoria will oversee implementation of the new laws, including further consultation to develop regulations and guidelines.
Some of the reforms relate to the Commencement of a Tenancy, and include:
Fixed price advertisements and offers, and ban on inviting rental bids
Rental providers (landlords) and estate agents can only advertise or offer rental properties at a fixed price. They are banned from inviting rental bids or soliciting offers of rent higher than the advertised price.
False, misleading and deceptive representations
A rental provider and their agent are banned from encouraging someone to enter into a rental agreement by making false or misleading representations, or through misleading or deceptive conduct.
Use of information in a rental application
A rental provider or their agent can only use personal information disclosed in a rental application to assess the applicant’s suitability as a renter or to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
Inappropriate rental application questions
A rental provider or their agent cannot request inappropriate information in a rental application.
Before entering into a rental agreement, the rental provider must disclose to the renter whether the property is on the market for sale or is being repossessed, or if they are not the owner of the property, and information about any embedded energy network.
Rental agreement updated
The rental agreement form has been updated and modernised.
Certain terms are prohibited from being included in a rental agreement.
Unlawful discrimination information in rental agreement
Rental agreement forms must include an information statement that educates applicants, rental providers and agents about unlawful discrimination.
Rental providers not to unlawfully discriminate
Rental providers must not unlawfully discriminate (or instruct their agent to unlawfully discriminate) against renters in situations such as refusing to rent a property to an applicant, issuing a notice to vacate or determining consent for disability related modifications.
Maximum bond amount and rent in advance
The rental cost threshold that needs to be met before a rental provider can request a bond, or rent in advance, of more than one month’s rent, will be increased to take into account changes such as inflation. The threshold will be set following public consultation.
Additional bond amounts for long-term rental agreement
Rental providers can request an additional bond in long-term rental agreements of more than five years if the renter has lived at the rental property continuously for at least five years, and the rental provider has given at least 120 days’ notice.
Where and how rent is to be paid
Any method for paying rent can be specified under a rental agreement, but the rental provider must offer at least one reasonably available fee-free method of payment. Rental providers must also disclose any costs that may be incurred by the nominated method prior to the renter entering the agreement. Rental providers must also permit rent payments via Centrepay.
Digital renting guide provision
If the renter has given consent to receiving documents electronically, the rental provider may give the renter the Renting a home: a guide for tenants summary of renter rights in electronic form.
Disclosure of rental provider details
VCAT can order that the agent disclose the rental provider’s details for the purpose of legal proceedings.
VCAT can formalise rental agreements
A renter can apply to VCAT for an order requiring the rental provider to enter a written rental agreement with the renter, where a rental agreement already exists but it is not in writing or is only partially in writing.
Unsigned rental agreements enforceable
If a renter has signed the rental agreement but the rental provider has not and the rental provider (or their agent) has accepted rent or allowed part performance of the agreement by the renter, then the agreement is enforceable.