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New Renting Laws Now In Force

By Merryn Farnsworth

Consumer Affairs Victoria have recently announced several changes regarding new rental laws that are now in force regarding rent increases and electronic provision of the renting guide.

More information about the changes can be found below.

1. Rent increases for new tenancy agreements limited to once per year 

Under all tenancy agreements (fixed-term and periodic) entered into on or after 19 June 2019, rent can only be increased once every 12 months, rather than at six-monthly intervals.

Landlords must not increase the rent before the end of a fixed-term agreement, unless the terms of the agreement allow for this.

How does it work?

Six-monthly increases will still be allowed for agreements entered into before 19 June 2019 that are:

  • existing fixed-term tenancy agreements of less than five years, and
  • existing periodic (month-by-month) tenancy agreements.

Case Study: Existing lease started before 19 June 2019

Anna lives in her rented home on a fixed-term tenancy agreement (lease) that includes a term allowing for rent increases during the fixed term.

She is concerned when she receives a Notice of rent increase in August 2019, as it is less than 12 months since her last increase, and she knows the law has changed.

Anna’s lease started before the law changed on 19 June 2019, so this means her landlord can still increase the rent once every six months.

However, if Anna and her landlord enter into a new fixed term lease after the current one ends, or if her current lease expires and automatically rolls over to create a new periodic lease, the new law will apply to her new lease. Her landlord will be able to increase the rent under the new lease only once every 12 months.

2. Providing the renting guide electronically

Property Managers now have the option to provide the prescribed renting guide “Renting A Home: A Guide For Tenants” electronically to tenants who have consented to receive information this way.

Previously, it was required to provide the guide as a printed booklet.

To provide the guide electronically, the Property Manager must receive the tenant’s written consent to receive notices and other documents electronically. This can be included in the terms of the lease agreement, or a Consent To Electronic Service notice can be used.

Prepare for change  

More than 130 reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 were passed in the Victorian Parliament in 2018. Some were selected for early implementation this year, with the remaining reforms to be fully implemented by 1 July 2020.

To help you prepare for these changes, a new dedicated Changes to renting laws section on our website will serve as a one-stop information source on:

  • the early reforms that are already in effect
  • stakeholder consultation
  • key reforms and their impact on tenants and landlords.

Additional resources including fact sheets will be progressively updated.

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