Renting

Read our legal information about COVID-19 coronavirus.

Renting

There are laws about renting property, including rights and responsibilities for the renter (tenant) and residential rental provider (landlord). These cover:

Note – rental laws have recently changed

New laws provide more protections for renters. These changes started on 29 March 2021. Learn more about the changes and new rental laws on the Tenants Victoria website.

The laws for renting property are set out in the Consumer Affairs Victoria’s booklet called Renters guide. A residential renter provider or their agent must give a copy of this guide to renters on or before the day they move in.

If you have agreed in writing to receive notices and other documents electronically (for example, to your email address) then the rental provider or agent can give you an electronic copy of this guide. Otherwise you must be given a printed copy.

Consumer Affairs Victoria now provide much of this information on their website.

Other services such as the Tenants Victoria also produce a range of resources and fact sheets about renting a property. For more information, see the Tenants Victoria website.

Rental agreements

A rental agreement can be written or verbal. The agreement can be for a short fixed-term up to five years (often six or 12 months) or periodic (from month to month). Long-term rental agreements of more than five years may also be an option for renters and rental providers who are seeking greater security and stability.

If the agreement is in writing it is known as a 'residential rental agreement’ (lease), and tenancy laws require it to be on a standard form. These forms are available on Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website. It is important to read and understand your rental agreement before signing.

Keep a copy of any agreement you sign.

Rental minimum standards

Under new rental laws, residential rental providers need to make sure that their rental property meets certain basic standards. These are known as ‘rental minimum standards’ and include things such as:

  • door locks
  • supply of hot and cold water
  • oven or stovetops that work properly
  • a working toilet
  • window coverings
  • heating.

The property also needs to be free from mould and damp and structurally sound and weatherproof.

Some of these minimum standards are being phased in gradually and will only apply to new rental agreements from 29 March 2021. Read more about minimum standards on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

If a rental property does not meet these minimum standards, you can end the rental agreement before you move in. You can also request an urgent repair to make the property meet the minimum standards at any time after you move in. Read more about arranging repairs to a rental property.

Paying rent

If you pay rent to a real estate agent or to a private residential rental provider, always insist on being given a receipt to avoid disputes about payment. On request, your rental provider is required to give you either a rent receipt or a rental ledger.

If your rent is overdue

If you owe at least 14 days' rent the residential rental provider or real estate agent can give you 14 days' notice to vacate the property. The notice must be in writing.

If you get a Notice to Vacate you may not have to move out. Try to negotiate with the residential rental provider or agent to repay the money owing. Ask for any agreement you make to be put in writing.

If you pay the rent you owe by the termination date in the Notice to Vacate then the Notice to Vacate will no longer have any effect and you don’t need to do anything further.

If you have not paid the rent that you owe by the termination date, and the residential rental provider or agent wants you to move out, they must apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) for a possession order.

You will get a notice telling you when the hearing is. It is important to go to the hearing. At the hearing you will be asked why you have not paid rent. If the tribunal is satisfied you can pay the rent owing and you are not likely to fall behind in your rent again, they might not make the order. The tribunal can also adjourn your hearing and refer you to a financial counselling service. The Tribunal can also put you on a payment plan. However, if the Tribunal makes a possession order, you must leave the house.

Rent increases

A residential rental provider or their agent must not increase the rent payable under a rental agreement more than once in any 12-month period.

If the rental agreement is for a fixed amount of time, the rent can't increase before the end date, unless the agreement says otherwise.

Your residential rental provider or their agent must give you at least 60 days’ notice of any rent increase, in writing.

Consumer Affairs Victoria can assess the rent increase if you believe:

  • it is too much compared to current rental prices for similar properties
  • the residential rental provider or agent has reduced or withdrawn services, facilities or other items that are part of the premises.

If you think the rent increase is too high you can request a ‘rent assessment’. To request a rent assessment download the ‘Request for repairs inspection or rent assessment’ form from the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. You must make this request within 30 days of receiving notice that the rent is being increased.

If you disagree with Consumer Affairs Victoria’s assessment, you have 30 days from receiving the report to apply to the tribunal for a hearing. The tribunal may set a maximum rent, which stays in place for 12 months.

Reasons for eviction

Before you can be evicted from a rental property, a residential rental provider (or their agent) must give you a ‘Notice to Vacate’. For this notice to be valid it must be given for a lawful reason, such as:

  • you have not paid rent
  • you have caused serious damage to the property, made neighbours unsafe or you have threatened or scared neighbours, the rental provider, agent or people doing work for them
  • you have given someone else a lease over all or part of the property without your rental provider’s agreement
  • you did not follow an order by the tribunal about your tenancy. For example, you had a pet when the tribunal ordered you not to or
  • you have used the property to make, grow or traffic drugs or do something else that is against the law.

Your rental provider can also give you a Notice to Vacate if:

  • they are moving back in, or their immediate family or people they support financially are moving in
  • they are selling the property or
  • the property is to be repaired, renovated or demolished and you cannot live there while this happens.

There are other reasons, as well as reasons that may apply if you live in public housing.

If you are still living in the property after the termination date set out in the Notice to Vacate, your rental provider may apply to the tribunal for a possession order requiring you to leave the property. The tribunal will decide if the rental provider had a lawful reason for giving you the Notice to Vacate.

Even if the tribunal finds that the reason for the notice was valid, it can only make a possession order if it is ‘reasonable and proportionate’ to make the order in all the circumstances. Some of the matters the tribunal will consider include:

  • if the application is because you did something wrong, how serious it was, whether someone else caused it and whether you have tried to fix it
  • whether there is another option to fix the problem
  • your rental provider or real estate agent’s behaviour
  • if there is family violence or a personal safety intervention order
  • any other matter, such as how long you have lived there and how eviction would affect you and your family.

If the tribunal makes a termination order, it will decide the date you must leave by.

If your rental provider has applied to the tribunal for a termination order, you should get legal help.

Arranging repairs to a rental property

Residential rental providers  are required to keep rented property in a safe and liveable condition. They must also make sure that the rented property meets certain rental minimum standards.

Renters aren’t responsible for fixing things that need repairing because of 'fair wear and tear' (things that are expected to wear out over time, like paintwork or carpets).

If the property you rent needs repairs, write to the residential rental provider or agent asking for these to be fixed. Keep a copy of the letter. You should make your request using a ‘Notice to rental provider of rented premises’ form from the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Urgent repairs

Any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure is considered to be an ‘urgent repair’. These may include:

  • problems with water services, electricity, sewers and gas leaks
  • broken air conditioner or safety device, such as a smoke alarm and
  • pest infestations, mould or damp caused by the structure of the building.

If your rental provider won't fix these, you can get them fixed as long as they don't cost more than $2500. You must pay for these repairs. Make sure you keep the receipt. To get the money from your rental provider or agent, send them a ‘Notice to rental provider of rented premises’ form on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. They then have seven days to pay you.

If you can't afford to pay for urgent repairs and your rental provider hasn't acted, you can apply to the tribunal requesting the work to be done. Applications for urgent repairs must be heard by the tribunal within two days.

Non-urgent repairs

If your rental provider refuses to do non-urgent repairs after 14 days' notice, you can ask Consumer Affairs Victoria to inspect the property. If your rental provider hasn't done the repair work after the inspection, you can ask the tribunal to order your rental provider to do the repairs.

Getting your bond back when you move

Usually when you move into a new place you will be asked to pay a bond of one month's rent to guarantee that you will perform your obligations under the residential agreement. Bonds must always be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (the Authority). You can check if your bond has been lodged by phoning them on 1300 137 164.

If you have paid all your rent and the property is left in good condition when you move out, your bond should be refunded in full.

You can apply to the Authority to have all or part of your bond released. The Authority will notify your rental provider of your claim. Your rental provider has 14 days to advise whether there is an application before the tribunal claiming repayment of the bond. If the rental provider does not advise the Authority in writing that the claim is subject to an application to the Tribunal then the Authority will repay the bond money as you have asked in your claim form.

A rental provider or agent can make a claim on the bond for:

  • damage caused by you or your visitors which has been intentionally caused or caused by failing to take reasonable care
  • cleaning expenses (if you failed to return the property in a reasonably clean condition)
  • you abandoning the premises
  • bills that you should have paid
  • loss of the rental provider’s goods
  • unpaid rent.

Claims can’t be made for ‘fair wear and tear’, such as carpets wearing out over a long time.

However, a rental provider always has a duty to mitigate loss. This means that if they make a claim against your bond, they need to show that they have taken reasonable steps to keep their costs down.

Disagreements about bond refunds are heard by the tribunal. A renter, previous co-renter or residential rental provider has 14 days to make a claim to the tribunal for a ‘bond repayment order’ once the residential agreement has ended. Applications to the tribunal for the return of your bond are free.

Was this helpful?