Some may say it’s a renters’ market, and others out there believe that a landlord has the upper hand. No matter the currently popular (or unpopular) opinion, there’s one thing we can all agree on; the property market has changed and thankfully, so have the rules and regulations that protect all parties regarding rental property transactions.
Under Victorian rental laws that came into effect in March 2021, it is now the responsibility of the rental provider (landlord) to ensure a rental property meets minimum standards.
Victoria’s rental minimum standards cover basic requirements relating to a renter’s amenity, safety and privacy. Now more than ever, rental providers need to be accountable for and on top of issues relating to their property. This is to protect the renter by providing them with a safe place to live that is in good repair—a fundamental human right.
Therefore, it is imperative to be upfront and honest with your renters (and property manager) and ensure repairs are completed and documentation maintained to avoid problems down the track.
What are the minimum standards of rental compliance?
A rental property within Victoria must comply with 14 categories of minimum compliance standards. These include:
1. Door Locks
- All external entry doors must be secured with a functioning deadlatch and, if not, with a locking device that:
- is opened by a key from the outside, and
- can be locked from the inside with or without a key.
- This rule does not apply if:
- a front door opens to common property (e.g. apartment building), or
- if it’s a registered place and a permit to comply with this standard was refused under Heritage Act 2017.
- The rented premises must meet all ventilation standards in the Building Code of Australia, which stipulates that windows and other openings will cover not less than 5% of the floor space.
3. Window Coverings
- All windows in bedrooms and the living area must have coverings to block light and provide privacy.
- External windows that can be opened must be able to be set in an open/closed position
- Locks must be provided to secure all windows within the rented premises. If the window cannot be locked, it must have a latch to secure it against external entry.
5. Vermin-proof Bins
- Must be supplied by the local council and meet council regulations.
- Interior rooms and corridors must have adequate access to light, either natural or artificial.
- Any habitable rooms (e.g. bedroom, living room or study) must have natural and artificial light access.
- This category is being rolled out over three years to comply with the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021.
- As of 29 March 2021, a fixed heater in the properties’ main living area is now required for all rented premises.
- An energy-efficient heater (2-star minimum) must be installed in the absence of a fixed heater in the premises’ main living area.
- From 29 March 2023, all rental providers must install an energy-efficient fixed heater (minimum 2-star rated) in the main living area.
- If installing an energy-efficient heater (e.g. high costs or owner’s corp restrictions) is not feasible, then the energy efficiency requirement will not apply. However, a fixed heater is still required.
- Rented premises must contain at least one toilet, and all must be in working order.
- Toilet/s must be connected to an appropriate waste system and in a room or structure intended as a toilet area.
9. Bathroom Facilities
Rented premises must include the following:
- A ‘reasonable’ hot and cold water supply
- A wash basin and a functioning shower or bath
- Minimum 3-star rated showerheads.
10. Kitchen Facilities
- A dedicated food preparation area
- A sink with hot and cold water
- A stovetop in working order with two or more burners
- An oven in working order, if supplied
Note: Just like the Door Locks category, these minimum requirements do not apply if the property is a registered place, and a request for a permit to comply with this standard was refused under the Heritage Act 2017.
11. Laundry Facilities
- If provided, the laundry must be connected to an adequate amount of hot and cold water.
12. Mould & Dampness
- Each room must be free of mould and dampness caused by the building structure.
13. Structural Soundness
- Rented premises must be both structurally sound and weatherproof (no leaks or uneven flooring).
14. Electrical Safety
The minimum standards within this category will take effect from 29 March 2023. These are as follows:
- Rental properties must all have modern-style switchboards comprising circuit breakers and electrical safety switches.
- Rental providers must ensure their rental property complies with electrical safety standards, only by engaging a licensed, registered electrician.
- Rental providers should engage an electrician early to ensure they meet their legislative obligations.
If your rental property has a circuit breaker switchboard:
A leased premises will meet the new minimum standard if an accredited electrician adds circuit breaker components to power outlets and lighting circuits without needing to add or modify the circuit protection to the rest of the premises.
Different types of circuit breaker components and options include:
- an overcurrent circuit breaker and residual current device (RCDs), or
- an overcurrent circuit breaker and residual current operated circuit-breakers without integral overcurrent protection (RCCBs), or
- a residual current operated circuit-breaker with critical overcurrent protection (RCBOs).
If your rental property does not have a circuit breaker switchboard:
While circuit breaker-type switchboards are common in newer properties, older properties are likelier to have a panel with a fuse board or a federal fuse board.
In these instances, an electrician may be unable to add circuit breaker components. Instead, they may need to replace the whole switchboard to ensure the rented premises meets electrical safety standards.
In either case, a trusted, accredited electrician will advise and recommend the appropriate action to ensure the electrics in your home comply with Victoria’s rental minimum standards.
What happens if I don’t comply with Victoria’s rental minimum standards?
Penalties under the new regulations for non-compliance are a fine of up to $10,000 for individual rental providers and up to $50,000 for body corporates. In addition, the rental provider and agent will be publicly named and listed on the Consumer Affairs Victoria Non-Compliance Register. Yes, there is such a thing!
The Residential Tenancies Act 2007 states: “65A Occupation of rented premises that do not comply with rental minimum standards without limiting sections 65, 68, and 70, a residential rental provider must ensure that rented premises comply with prescribed rental minimum standards on or before the day on which the renter enters into occupation of the premises”.
The renter can also end the rental agreement before moving in if you do not comply. If they are already living in the property, they can request an urgent repair to ensure the rental property meets the minimum standards at any time.
How is the penalty calculated?
In the case of a natural person, 60 penalty units apply. For body corporates, it’s 300 penalty units.
Currently, one penalty unit equals $181.74, and 60 penalty units amount to $10,904.40.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has an online Rental non-compliance register that shows rental providers and agents who have been non-compliant. They stay on the record for three years.
So, how can Dynamic Residential’s property management experts help me to avoid these harsh penalties?
Sure, these penalties and a red mark across your name may seem a tad terrifying, but the good news is, we’re here to help, so you never have to worry about breaking any laws. Our dedicated, experienced property managers are well-versed in top-tier Melbourne property and the ins and outs of rental providers’ and renters’ rights. Here’s how we support you, the rental provider, as your trusted property manager:
- We have expert knowledge of compliance and disclosure requirements while following all residential tenancies act rules and regulations.
- We know all the questions to ask our rental providers to ensure a property is 100% compliant.
- We have compiled a full and thorough Disclosure Statement including all these questions for the rental provider to complete. No nasty surprises!
- Our Disclosure Statements are paperless for ease and speed of completion.
- We have an existing, secure partnership with Property Compliance Victoria to assess the compliance status of properties.
- We can handle all non-compliant items and ensure they are rectified, making the process easy for our clients. This gets a property ready quickly and renters in faster.
- We have an existing partnership with Detector Inspector to manage all ongoing safety checks and reporting on properties.
For further information or to discuss how the Dynamic Residential team can help you meet the rental minimum standards; get in touch today.