Family of four moving into house carrying boxes

Rental security

Landlords’ ability under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) to terminate a periodic tenancy for no specified reason can compromise tenants’ willingness to assert their rights for fear of receiving a retaliatory eviction notice.

The following reforms aim to improve the balance of bargaining power between the parties, and to encourage landlords to be more transparent about their reasons for wanting to end a tenancy.

Reforms

Landlords must give a reason to end a tenancy

We will remove the 120 day ‘no specified reason’ notice to vacate from the RTA. This notice is currently available to a landlord when their tenant living in the rental property on a period basis (i.e. month to month). In practice, this reform will mean that landlords will only be able to end a tenancy for a reason specified in the RTA – for example, selling or renovating the property.

Limit the use of the ‘end of fixed term’ notices to vacate

Landlords will only be able to end tenancies using an ‘end of fixed term’ notice to vacate at the end of a tenant’s first fixed term agreement. At the end of any subsequent fixed terms for that same tenant, the landlord will only be able to end the tenancy using one of the grounds specified in the RTA.

This reform aims to improve rental security and encourage longer term leasing arrangements between the parties, especially where a tenant has proven they can meet their obligations.

Tenants who receive an ‘end of fixed term’ notice will also be able to give 14 days’ notice to vacate the property at any time, rather than having to pay rent until the end of the fixed term. This will stop tenants missing out on new homes because they have to wait until the end of the fixed term, or paying double rent when they find a new home.

False, misleading or deceptive representations

A landlord or agent will be prohibited from making false, misleading or deceptive representations to induce a tenant to enter into a residential tenancy agreement. Affected tenants will be able to go to Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to end the tenancy or seek compensation for any loss they might have suffered as a result of the landlord or agent’s conduct.

This reform will promote accuracy and honesty in the rental market, while ensuring trivial misrepresentations are not used as an excuse by tenants to end tenancies.

Pre-contractual disclosure

Landlords will be required to disclose certain important information to the tenant before they sign on the dotted line, including any proposal to sell the property, or if the landlord knows of any asbestos previously identified at the property.

Long term leases

Many Victorians want the certainty of a longer term lease. Despite short leases being the norm in Victoria, more than 1 in 5 renters have been in their home for longer than 5 years.

To give renters greater security, a new optional standard long-term lease agreement is under development. Our new laws will mean that landlords and tenants wishing to enter into arrangements of more than 5 years will now benefit from the protections in the RTA.

More information

The reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act will be introduced into the Victorian Parliament in 2018, and if passed, these reforms would be implemented in 2019.

For information about the review, visit the Fairer Safer Housing website.

If you have a question or concern about current rental laws, visit the Renting section on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.