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"Rent Fair" Victorian Rental Law Reforms - During a residential rental agreement (Part 4)

Marcel Dybner

During a residential rental agreement

Reform 31.

Renters will be required to obtain their residential rental provider's (RRP) consent to keep a pet. However, the RRP will be taken to have consented to the pet unless they apply to VCAT within 14 days. VCAT can order that the renter is permitted to keep a pet on the property, or may decide that it is reasonable to refuse consent and make an order excluding the pet from the property. The RRP can terminate the lease if the renter does not comply with an order excluding the pet from the property. The factors that VCAT may consider when determining whether it is reasonable to refuse consent to keeping a pet are:

  • the type of pet the renter proposes to keep, or is keeping, on the property
  • the character and nature of the property
  • the character and nature of the appliances, fixtures and fittings on the property whether refusing consent to keep the pet on the property is permitted under any Act any prescribed matters anything else VCAT considers relevant.

Reform 32. 

Renters will be able to make certain prescribed minor modifications without the consent of the RRP. Other types of modifications (including disability-related modifications) will require the RRP’s consent, which cannot be unreasonably refused. Modifications will need to be made carefully, and using a suitably qualified person in some instances. If the RRP asks, the renter will also need to restore any changes or face losing their bond to cover the cost if the RRP has to do it. Renters will remain responsible for restoring any changes made to the property, and will be able to lodge a restoration bond to cover the future removal of fixtures. Consent to fixtures is not dependent on whether the renter can lodge a restoration bond. However, it does illustrate that they will be able to meet their obligation to restore the property if requested.

A restoration bond will not be required if:

  • the amount in question is less than $500
  • the amount requested does not reflect the reasonable costs of restoring the premises
  • the RRP has agreed to leave the modification in place without the need for restoration, or the modification has been funded by a scheme, and it is a condition of the grant that the RRP must agree to leave the modification in place and not require the renter to restore the property when they leave.

Whether a modification is authorised or unauthorised, it is still the renter’s duty to redress any resulting damage to the property.

 

For modifications in rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks, operators will be required to not unreasonably refuse consent to disability-related modifications.

Reform 33.

If a residential rental agreement is being assigned to a new renter, the RRP will only be able to charge reasonable fees that are reasonably incurred by the RRP because of the assignment of the agreement. This reform also applies to site agreements in residential parks.

Reform 34. 

Where a renter or RRP gives the other person a breach of duty notice, the person in breach will be required to remedy the breach if possible and, if the breach has resulted in loss or damage to the other person, compensate that other person. This reform will address current confusion about whether, if compensation is paid, there is still an obligation to remedy the breach. This reform will also apply to breaches of duty in rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.

Reform 35. 

If a renter causing a nuisance is served a breach of duty notice but does not comply, the RRP can’t take further steps (such as apply to VCAT or a compliance order or issue a second breach notice) for 14 days. This timeframe will be shortened to 7 days, to allow RRPs to deal more effectively with wilful nuisance while not unduly penalising renters. This reform will also apply to a breach of duty for nuisance by a site tenant in a residential park.

Reform 36. 

If a RRP who is not ensuring the renter’s quiet enjoyment is served a breach of duty notice but does not comply, the renter can’t take further steps (such as apply to VCAT or a compliance order or issue a second breach notice) for 14 days. This timeframe will be shortened to 7 days, to allow renters to deal more effectively with intrusions on their quiet enjoyment while not unduly penalising RRPs. This reform will also apply to a breach of duty for the site tenant’s quiet enjoyment in a residential park.

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