Victoria Legal Aid

Renting

The legal rights and responsibilities of rental property tenants, landlords and real estate agents.

If you rent your home, the law says what rights and responsibilities you have. There are rules about rental agreements (also called tenancy agreements or leases), minimum standards, paying rent, eviction, repairs and your bond.

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 lawsExternal Link on the Tenants Victoria website.

You can read about renting laws in Consumer Affairs Victoria’s Renters guideExternal Link . The person you rent from must give you a copy of this guide when you move in or before you move in. They can give you an electronic copy of the guide, if you agree in writing to receive notices and other documents electronically (for example, by email). Otherwise they must give you a printed copy.

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.

You can also find most of this information on Consumer Affairs Victoria's websiteExternal Link .

Tenants Victoria also has information and resources about renting a property. For more information, go to the Tenants VictoriaExternal Link website.

Rental agreements

Your rental agreement can be written or verbal (spoken). The agreement can be for a fixed-term (up to five years, but 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 if you and the person you rent from want better security and stability.

If the agreement is in writing, it is called a 'residential rental agreement’ and it must be on a standard form. These forms are available on Consumer Affairs Victoria’s websiteExternal Link . It is important to read and understand your rental agreement before signing. If you do not understand the agreement, get legal advice before you sign.

Keep a copy of any agreement you sign.

Rental minimum standards

Residential rental providers must make sure that the rental property meets 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 must also be free from mould and damp, and be structurally sound and weatherproof.

Some of these minimum standards are new and only apply to rental agreements made from 29 March 2021. Read more about minimum standards on the Consumer Affairs Victoria websiteExternal Link .

If your rental property does not meet these minimum standards, you can end the rental agreement before you move in. If you have already moved in, you can request the property meet the minimum standards as an urgent repair. Read more about arranging repairs to a rental property.

Paying rent

When you pay rent to the real estate agent or your residential rental provider, always ask for a receipt. Keep your receipts as proof that you paid rent. This can help avoid disputes about payment. If you ask for a receipt, the agent or provider must give you a receipt or a document called a ‘rental ledger’.

If your rent is overdue

If your rent is overdue by 14 days or more, your residential rental provider or the 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. You can write down the agreement and ask them to sign it. Or you can ask them to write down the agreement and give you a copy. The agreement can be on paper or electronic (for example, by email).

If you pay the overdue rent by the termination date in the notice to vacate, the notice no longer applies. You do not 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. A possession order means that you must move out.

You will get a notice telling you when the hearing is. It is important to go to the hearing. Currently most hearings are by telephone. You will be given a contact number to dial in to the hearing. At the hearing, you will be asked why you have not paid rent. The tribunal may decide:

  • not to make a possession order. That means you can stay in your home. This might happen if you prove you can pay the overdue rent and you are not likely to miss rent payments again
  • to adjourn (delay) your hearing and may refer you to a financial counselling service
  • to put you on a payment plan so that you can pay the overdue rent bit-by-bit
  • to make a possession order. That means you must leave your home.

Read more about eviction.

Rent increases

If you have a periodic (month-to-month) rental agreement, your rent must not increase more than once in 12 months.

If you have a fixed-term agreement, your rent must not increase before the end date, unless your agreement allows it.

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

If you think the rent increase is too high, you can request a ‘rent assessment’ by Consumer Affairs Victoria. You can request this assessment 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 property.

To request a rent assessment, download the ‘Request for repairs inspection or rent assessment’ form from the Consumer Affairs Victoria websiteExternal Link . 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 for the next 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. For example, if you have done one or more of these things:

  • not paid rent
  • 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
  • given someone else a lease over all or part of the property without your rental provider’s agreement
  • not followed an order by the tribunal about your tenancy. For example, you had a pet when the tribunal ordered you not to
  • 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 may be other reasons for your rental provider or their agent to try to evict you. If you are not sure if the eviction is lawful, get legal advice.

If you do not move out by the termination date in the notice to vacate, your rental provider may apply for a possession order. A possession order ends your rental agreement and tells you when you must move out. The tribunal will first decide if the rental provider had a lawful reason for giving you the notice to vacate.

If the tribunal decides the reason was lawful, it can only make a possession order if that would be ‘reasonable and proportionate’. The tribunal will consider things like:

  • 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 possession order, it will decide the date you must leave by.

If a possession order says you must move out, but you do not, your rental provider may get a warrant to evict you. Police can evict you if they have this warrant. Only police can evict you in these circumstances. Your rental provider or someone else cannot evict you.

If a possession order is made, and you are having trouble finding somewhere to live, there are housing assistance services that may be able to help you. You can get a referral to these services by contacting Opening Doors on 1800 825 955.

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

Arranging repairs to a rental property

Your rental provider must keep your home in a safe and liveable condition. They must also make sure your home meets the rental minimum standards.

You are not 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 your home needs repairs, write to your rental provider or agent asking for these to be fixed. You should use a ‘Notice to rental provider of rented premises’ form from the Consumer Affairs Victoria websiteExternal Link to ask for repairs. Keep a copy of your notice.

Urgent repairs

Any fault or damage which makes your home unsafe or insecure needs 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
  • pest infestations, mould or damp caused by the structure of the building.

If your rental provider refuses to make urgent repairs, you can get them fixed if they do not cost more than $2500. You must pay for these repairs. Make sure you keep the receipt. To get the money refunded from your rental provider or agent, send them a ‘Notice to rental provider of rented premises’ form on the Consumer Affairs Victoria websiteExternal Link . They then have seven days to pay you.

If you cannot pay for urgent repairs, and your rental provider refuses to fix them, you can apply to the tribunal. The tribunal can order your rental provider to make the urgent repairs. 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 VictoriaExternal Link to inspect the property. If the inspector says repairs are needed, but your rental provider still refuses, 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. The bond is a guarantee that you will follow the rules in your rental agreement. Your rental provider must lodge your bond with the Residential Tenancies Bond AuthorityExternal Link (the authority). You can check if your bond has been lodged by phoning them on 1300 137 164.

If you pay all your rent and leave the property in good condition, your rental provider should refund all your bond when you move out.

You can apply to the authority to have all or part of your bond refunded to you. The authority will notify your rental provider of your claim. Your rental provider must tell the authority within 14 days if they applied to the tribunal asking to keep your bond. Otherwise, the authority will repay your bond money to you in the way you asked in your claim form.

Your rental provider or agent can ask to keep some or all of your bond if:

  • you or your visitors damaged the property deliberately or because you were not careful enough
  • they need to pay for cleaning because you did not leave the property in a reasonably clean condition
  • you abandoned the premises (left without telling them)
  • you did not pay bills that you should have paid
  • you took goods belonging to your rental provider’s goods (for example, curtains or a stove)
  • you did not pay all of your rent.

Your rental provider cannot ask for your bond because of ‘fair wear and tear’, such as carpets wearing out over a long time.

If your rental provider asks to keep your bond, they must show that they have taken reasonable steps to keep their costs down.

If you have a disagreement about your bond, you can ask the tribunalExternal Link to decide what happens. You must apply to the tribunal for a ‘bond repayment order’ within 14 days of your rental agreement ending. You can apply to the tribunal about your bond if you are a renter or previous co-renter Applying to the tribunal for the return of your bond is free.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

We help Victorians with their legal problems and represent those who need it most. Find legal answers, chat with us online, or call us. You can speak to us in English or ask for an interpreter. You can also find more legal information at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 22 April 2022

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