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"Rent Fair" Victorian Rental Law Reforms - Before a residential rental agreement (Part 2)

Marcel Dybner

Before a residential rental agreement

Reform 8. 

Inappropriate questions in a residential rental application form will be able to be prohibited through regulations, should certain types of questions become problematic in the Victorian market in the future. This reform also applies to rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

Reform 9. 

Unlawful discrimination is prohibited under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. The Residential Tenancies Act will now clarify that RRPs must not unlawfully discriminate (or instruct their agent to unlawfully discriminate) when:

  • refusing to let a property to an applicant
  • refusing consent to modifications, sub-letting or assignment, or
  • issuing a notice to vacate.

Applicants and renters in these circumstances will have a right under the Residential Tenancies Act to seek compensation if they have suffered loss as a result of this unlawful discrimination. This reform also applies to rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

Reform 10. 

Rental application forms will be required to include a prescribed information statement that educates applicants, RRPs and agents about unlawful discrimination. This reform will also apply to residency applications in rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

Reform 11. 

Private RRPs and smaller commercial agencies are not bound by the Australian Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act 1988. This reform will prohibit all RRPs and agents from misusing information in a residential rental application. This reform also applies to rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

Reform 12. 

RRPs and their agents will be prohibited from inducing someone to enter a residential rental agreement by misleading or deceptive conduct (for example, if the agent tells a prospective renter that the house has a high-speed internet connection, when the agent knows this is not the case).

Reform 13. 

Before entering into a residential rental agreement, the RRP will now be required to disclose:

  • any ongoing proposal to sell the property
  • any ongoing mortgagee action to possess the property
  • that the RRP has a legal right to let the property (if the RRP is not the property owner)
  • details of any embedded electricity network
  • any other prescribed matters, such as the presence of asbestos.

This reform also applies to rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

Reform 14.

Sometimes, if a RRP is using an agent, the renter will only have the full name and address of the agent, not the RRP. If the RRP’s details are needed for the purposes of legal proceedings, VCAT will be able to order that the agent disclose the RRP’s name and address.

Reform 15.

As part of the broader modernisation of rental laws, the Act will be amended to authorise digital delivery of critical information, such as the ‘Red Book’ outlining the parties’ rights and responsibilities.

Reform 16. 

The prescribed standard form for a residential rental agreement will be updated and modernised.

Reform 17. 

Not all residential tenancies are in writing. Where, for all intents and purposes, a person is being treated as a renter by their rental provider, the Act will allow them to apply to VCAT for an order requiring the RRP to enter into a written residential rental agreement. This is aimed at providing a sense of security that the Act applies to the parties’ relationship. This reform also applies to rooming houses and residency in caravan parks.

Reform 18. 

The Act will be amended to clarify that a renter who does not have a properly executed residential rental agreement (that is, the RRP has not signed the agreement) will nevertheless benefit from the protections in the Act as if the agreement had been properly signed from the beginning. This reform also applies to site agreements in residential parks.

Reform 19. 

To prevent residential rental agreements from including particular detrimental additional terms, those terms will be prescribed in regulations as prohibited terms. It will be an offence to include a prohibited term in a residential rental agreement. This reform also applies to agreements for rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

Reform 20.

Any requirement in the residential rental agreement specifying that the renter must have the property professionally cleaned before vacating the property will only be valid if such cleaning was needed to return the property to the condition it was in at the start of the tenancy, taking into account fair wear and tear. This reform also applies to agreements for rooming house rooms and caravans.

Reform 21.

A RRP will be required to give each renter listed on the residential rental agreement a key and/or other access device for the property free of charge, but can charge a reasonable fee for an additional key/device requested by the renter.

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