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It's your turn to have a say on Victoria's renting laws

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After a year of research, 332 written responses and more than 3,500 statements in forums and polls from the public, the Victorian Government has released an options paper on how it could change the Residential Tenancies Act.

Called Heading for Home, the paper proposes comprehensive changes that will impact both tenants and landlords in Melbourne. Lily D’Ambrosio, acting minister for consumer affairs, noted in a January 7 release that their aim is to strike the ideal balance of fairness in legislation.

The Residential Tenancies Act changes will impact both landlords and tenants.

With another round of submissions open to the public closing on February 10, let’s take a look at some of the biggest proposals in the options paper.

Proposed changes for rental properties

In Ms D’Ambrosio’s press release, the most significant proposals for the Residential Tenancies Act were listed, including:

  • The potential for fixed term leases in excess of five years
  • Improvements to minimum health and safety standards for rental properties
  • Incentivising fast repair responses from landlords and property managers
  • Ensuring tenants get landlord approval before listing a rental on Airbnb
  • Providing evidence alongside notices to vacate a rental
  • Restricting increases in rent to once every 12 months
  • A removal of “no pets” clauses that exist without fair reason

There are also proposals for mediation services, a blanket ban on rental bidding, and changes to give more options to victims of family violence. While comprehensive, there have been some mixed responses to the options paper.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) responded to the paper, largely praising the decisions put forward but criticising others. In particular, REIV President Joseph Walton approved proposals on removing “no pets” clauses, requiring approval for Airbnb or modifications and improvements to mediation and dispute resolution.

“Minimum standards for residential property are already established in Victoria”

However, the REIV did express disappointment at the advancement of other changes. Notably, it does not see the need for further expansion on minimal rental property standards, with Walton claiming it will increase costs for both landlords and tenants, especially at the lower end of the property market.

“Minimum standards for residential property are already established in Victoria – as set out in the Victorian Building Regulations and Codes,” his statement reads.

The close of submissions on the options paper on February 17 is not the end of this process, but it is the end of a crucial window for Melbourne landlords, tenants and property managers. Having your say on how the Residential Tenancies Act changes is important, so the Government can implement fair legislation for everyone, you can do so here.

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