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Information on some of the changes that will affect you as a public housing renter.

On 29 March 2021 new rental laws under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) will begin.

These new rent rules make renting easier with clearer rights and responsibilities for both renters and rental providers.

Over 130 reforms are being introduced. You can find the full list and more information at the Consumer Affairs Victoria webpage.

Frequently asked questions

What changes are occurring as part of the Residential Tenancy Amendment Bill (2018)?

On 29 March 2021 new rental laws under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) will begin. These changes will make renting fairer for all Victorians and improve safety for renters in their home.

Why was the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) amended?

The RTA is the main source of consumer protection for renters in Victoria, while also outlining the obligations of Residential Rental providers and property managers. Since the RTA was introduced there have been many changes in the rental market and in the expectations of renters and Residential Rental providers. 

The Fairer Safer Housing review provided an opportunity to revisit the regulatory settings that have been in place since 1997 and to ensure they meet the needs of today’s rental housing market. The review resulted in more than 130 reforms designed to improve the rights and safety at home for all Victorian renters. The reforms also ensure Residential Rental providers can manage properties effectively. These changes will commence from 29 March 2021.

Do the changes apply to me?

Yes. Everyone in Victoria who rents a property or is a property provider needs to adhere to these new laws. The changes make renting fairer and safer for all Victorians.

What are the key changes that affect me?

The key changes to the Act for public housing tenants are:

  • Your home will have a safety check – every year.
  • Tenants are now called renters and Landlords are now Rental Providers.
  • It’ll be easier to make minor modifications.
  • You’ll know more about the condition of your home.
  • If you have a new pet, you need approval.

For a full list of changes to the Act please visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Are my rights reduced under the new laws?

No, the new reforms aim to provide greater protections to renters through annual safety checks and an expanded definition of urgent repairs which will ensure required maintenance is completed sooner.  For more information on the reforms please visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Will the new laws change the way my rent is calculated?

No. You will continue to be charged at no more than 25% of your household income.

How will the department manage rent arrears?

Under the new rental laws there is now a 5 strike system in place for non-payment of rent.  

Every 12 months renters can receive up to four notices for non-payment of rent. Each notice is recorded as a strike. If the renter pays the all the unpaid rent on or before the termination date set out in the notice then the notice has no effect and an application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) cannot be made. If the renter does not pay all the unpaid rent before the termination date of the notice to vacate, then an application to VCAT can be made. 

If a renter receives a fifth notice of non-payment of rent during the 12 month period, then the rental provider may apply to VCAT even if the outstanding rent is paid prior to the termination date of the fifth notice.

What is a safety check?

A safety check is very important and will keep you safe at home. Checks are completed annually and include the testing of smoke detectors and any gas or electrical installations, appliances and fittings. 

To complete a safety check our maintenance contractors will need to visit your property. 

How will I be contacted to complete a safety check? 

Maintenance contractors from the department will call you to organise a suitable time to complete the safety check at your property. 

Make sure we have the right contact details for you and if your contact details change, please let us know. 

What if I am not available?

If you are not available our contractors will make another time to visit you and complete the safety check. If you cannot make the scheduled appointment, please get in touch with your local office to discuss how the check can be completed. 

I would like to make some changes to my property. What can I do?

You can now make some minor changes to your property without getting permission from your local office. You can install items such as picture hooks, wireless doorbells and letterbox locks. 
You will still need to contact your local office for larger or more complex modifications.  

What if I need something repaired? 

There are now more repairs that are considered urgent, such as repairs or replacement to air conditioning, pest infestation and mould or damp.  This means that required maintenance will be completed much sooner. 

When considering an offer of public housing, what information will be provided to me?
Under the new rental laws, the relevant history of a property will be provided to you before you enter into a rental agreement. This is known as mandatory disclosure and will allow you to make a more informed decision about the home you will live in. This could include things like compliance with minimum safety standards and environmental issues or hazards.

Once you’ve accepted a property, a tenancy condition report will be completed before you move in, and again at the end of your tenancy.

What happens if I don’t accept a property because of information disclosed to me? 

Applicants on the VHR who do not accept an offer of public housing due to disclosures do not lose their place on the VHR. The offer will be recorded as a cancelled offer. If there is another suitable property vacant at the time then a new offer will be made, however if there are no vacant properties then you may be required to wait for a suitable property.

How will any anti-social behaviour affect a tenancy?

Any threats, assault or intimidation of staff or maintenance contractors by renters is taken very seriously. If an incident occurs involving a tenant and a staff member or contractor, the local Homes Victoria Housing office will investigate the complaint in accordance with the department’s Tenancy Breaches Operational Guidelines and follow the appropriate legal process under the Residential Tenancies Act.