Rental laws in Victoria and New South Wales are changing

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Residential Tenancies Regulations

In the coming months, rental laws will be changing across two of Australia’s largest rental markets, Victoria and New South Wales. New Residential Tenancies Regulations are due to bring over 130 reforms in Victoria alone, with many landlords and property investors expected to be impacted. If you own a rental property, you need to make sure you are on top of the changes and that your property and rental agreements comply with the law. The good news is, we’re here to help.


What’s changing?

There are plenty of new change that will impact how you must operate as a landlord – from your rental agreement, to your tenant application process, to bond payments. Some of the key changes include:

  • new standard form rental agreements, to better inform tenants and landlords of their rights and responsibilities
  • prohibited terms that rental agreements must not include; for example, a term that states the tenant is liable for the landlord’s VCAT application costs
  • information a landlord must disclose to a tenant before entering a rental agreement; for example, if the property is part of an embedded electricity network
  • information a landlord must not require a rental applicant to disclose; for example, if the applicant’s previous landlord claimed part of the bond
  • rental minimum standards that all rented premises must meet – most of these standards will be implemented from 1 July 2020 for new rental agreements. Some standards will be phased in between 1 July 2020 and 1 July 2023 to allow landlords to adjust
  • a maximum bond amount of one month’s rent for tenancy agreements and site agreements if the weekly rent is $900 or less
  • standard form condition reports tailored to reflect the different requirements of different types of rental accommodation
  • modifications tenants can make to rented premises without asking the landlord for consent; for example, adhesive child safety locks on drawers and doors
  • an updated amount of $2,500 for the cost of urgent repairs that tenants, rooming house residents and caravan residents can authorise
  • safety-related activities of both tenants and landlords that must be included in the standard tenancy agreement; for example, landlords would be responsible for arranging regular electrical safety tests.


Minimum standards in the Residential Tenancies Regulations

Minimum standards are a feature of the reforms in both Victoria and New South Wales. It means that every rental property must meet a ‘fit for habitation’ standard, such as being structurally sound, having adequate lighting and ventilation in each room, hot and cold water connections, electricity or gas for lighting and heating, security latches on external windows. The exact standards differ depending on which state you’re in, but you should be checking the rules in your area ahead of time to check your property meets the standards – ensuring that you book in a contractor to conduct any necessary work.


Who do the regulations apply to?

The regulations will apply to all landlords and tenants or private rental housing, public and social housing, rooming houses, caravan parks, and residential parks. This applies whether you have a property manager or whether you deal with the tenancy yourself.


When do the changes come into effect?

All new rental agreements dated after the introduction of the reforms (23 March 2020 for New South Wales and 1 July 2020 for Victoria) will need to be compliant with the new regulations. At this point, there aren’t plans to retrospectively apply the conditions to rental agreements signed prior to this date. For NSW, the date is fast-approaching, so we suggest getting organised as quickly as possible if you haven’t yet done so.


Why the change?

The changes are designed to improve the rights of tenants across Victoria and New South Wales. The new legislation gives tenants more protections during their rental experience. This includes safeguarding from discrimination during the application process, to ensuring properties are up to scratch, to making unfair evictions are a thing of the past. While the vast majority of landlords are already using fair processes to rent their properties, the regulations are designed to ensure standards are raised across the rental market for every renter.


What happens if landlords don’t comply?

The upcoming changes to the Residential Tenancies Regulations will be a legal requirement. If you don’t meet the new standards, you could be breaching the law and may be liable to pay a penalty or even be taken to court. We highly recommend ensuring that you are compliant with the new regulations – after all, they are there to ensure your tenants live in your property happily and peacefully, which is the best outcome for everyone!


What should landlords do next?

With over 130 new regulations in Victoria alone, you either need to get down to some serious research, or you need to seek expert advice to ensure your tenancies are legal and protected. There will likely be new processes to consider across many aspects of your work as a landlord – from sourcing tenants, the application process, the standards of your home, to vacating tenants. Therefore, we recommend seeking professional advice from property experts to ensure that you protect yourself, your property, and your tenants.

Reventon offer a full property management service, where our experienced team can help guide you through the regulation and implement any necessary changes to your investment property and tenancy agreements. Get in touch with Reventon to discuss your circumstances and we can support you every step of the way.


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