Further assistance with tenancy matters
For more information about any of the topics covered in this chapter, and for legal advice in relation to tenancy, contact Tenants Victoria (9416 2577).
Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)
The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) (‘RT Act’) sets out the rights and duties of:
- residential renters (tenants) and rental providers (landlords);
- caravan park residents and caravan park owners;
- rooming house residents, rooming house owners;
- site renters and site owners; and
- specialist disability accommodation residents and providers.
This chapter focuses on the law relating to renters and rental providers. There is also information about the rights and obligations of site renters, and of residents of rooming houses, caravan parks and specialist disability accommodation – these are quite different from those of renters.
Legislative changes: Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 (Vic)
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 (Vic) (‘RTA Act’) commenced on 29 March 2021. The RTA Act brings into effect nearly 130 amendments to the RT Act.
Some terminology has also changed:
- landlords are now called rental providers;
- renters are now called renters;
- tenancy agreements are now called rental agreements.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) publishes important decisions and provides simple explanations. These may be useful for more complex matters and for issues that require clarification in the new laws (see www.vcat.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-07/Useful-Supreme-Court-and-VCAT-decisions-about-renting.pdf).
COVID-19 and renting
At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact renters and the housing market.
Practitioners should consult the currency of any legislation that may have been amended as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renters and rental providers should work together where possible, and should seek financial advice to identify if any constructive resolutions can be found before resorting to eviction.
In relation to rent arrears caused by COVID-19 related hardship, check the current legislation and resources listed at the end of this chapter to determine if there have been any legal changes or financial supports made available by the government since publication.
TIPS FOR PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS
- Wherever possible, use the prescribed forms to take action. You can download these forms from CAV’s website.
- To apply to VCAT, visit www.vcat.vic.gov.au. Look under ‘Residential Tenancies List’ to download the general application form and guides for renters or rental providers – or you can register online.
- If you are experiencing family violence or personal safety issues, consider using the application called ‘Application by a person experiencing personal or family violence – residential tenancies application’ on VCAT’s website. You should also seek support from a family violence service or from VCAT’s family violence support worker.
- Always take extensive photos of a property at the beginning and end of a rental agreement.
- Put any additional terms of the rental agreement (lease) in writing in the ‘additional or special terms’ part of the rental agreement before the agreement is signed.