New Rental Laws – March 2021

Standard rental reforms from the Victorian government took effect on 29th March 2021.

Important information for landlords to be aware of:

Updated terminology for residential tenancies is now:

  • Tenants are now known as renters
  • Landlords are now known as residential rental providers (RPP)


All Victorian landlords must ensure that new mandatory safety checks are completed at their property per all safety-related obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act. Compulsory responsibilities include:

  • Smoke alarm servicing each year, including battery replacement, testing, and positioning checks
  • Gas safety checks every two years on all gas fixtures & fittings such as heaters, cooktops, water heaters and the mains gas line
  • Electrical safety two-year checks of all electrical appliances, fixtures & fittings like switchboards, power points and light switches

All safety check dates are now recorded on the entry/condition report completed when the renters first moved into the property.


Victorian rental providers (landlords) must now disclose the following before entering into a new rental agreement:

  • Whether an agent has been engaged to sell the property or if a contract of sale has been prepared, there is an ongoing proposal to sell the property; or
  • if proceedings have commenced enforcing a mortgage over the property, that a mortgagee is taking action for possession of the property; or
  • if the rental provider is not the owner of the property, the rental provider has a right to let the property and the nature of the rental provider’s interest in the property; or
  • if electricity is supplied to the property from an embedded electricity network, the prescribed details of the embedded electricity network, or any other information concerning the property defined by the Regulations – presence of asbestos.

If the disclosure requirements have not been complied with, the renter may make a general application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT can grant a compensation order or any other order it sees fit.


Rent increases are now limited to no more than once per year. In addition, landlords must give at least 60 days notice before any rent increase.

Any proposed rent increase notices must include:

  • the amount of rent increase
  • the method used to calculate the rent increase

Renters can challenge a rent increase via a ‘Rent Increase Investigation’ application to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria. Alternately, they may apply via VCAT for an order declaring the proposed rent excessive.


A renter can make minor modifications without seeking the rental provider’s consent. Some examples of these are:

  •     Installation of picture hooks or screws for shelves, wall mounts, or brackets on surfaces other than exposed brick or concrete walls
  •     Installation of wall anchoring devices on surfaces other than exposed brick or concrete walls to secure furniture
  •     Installation of LED lights that do not require new light fittings
  •     Installation of a water-efficient shower head if the original shower head is kept
  •     Installation of blind or cord anchors
  •     Installation of alarm systems, security lights or cameras that can easily be removed from the rented premises; do not impact the privacy of neighbours; and are not hardwired to the property
  •     Installation of mounted child safety gates on walls
  •     Installation of non-permanent window film for privacy, insulation, or reduced heat transfer
  •     Installation of a wireless doorbell
  •     Replacement of curtains if the renter retains the original curtains
  •     Installation of removable child safety locks on drawers and doors
  •     Installation of pressure-mounted child safety gate
  • Installation of a lock on a letterbox

And finally, the renter will be responsible for restoring any changes made to the property if requested.


Residential rental providers must ensure that the rental properties they let out comply with prescribed rental minimum standards. The minimum standards that will be defined will include basic yet critical requirements relating to amenity, safety and privacy, such as:

  • a vermin-proof rubbish bin
  • a functioning toilet
  • adequate hot & cold water connections in the kitchen, bathroom & laundry
  • external windows with  functioning latches to secure against exterior entries
  • functioning cooktop, oven, sink & food preparation area
  • operating heating in the property’s main living areas
  • window coverings in any room the owner knows is likely to be a bedroom or main living area for privacy

Suppose a property does not comply with the prescribed rental minimum standards. In that case, the renter may terminate the residential rental agreement before they move in. Otherwise, they can move in and request this compliance as an urgent repair. If the RRP fails to act and bring the property up to standard following the repair request, VCAT may order all rent to be redirected into a Rent Special Account.


Renters are now able to give 14 days’ notice of intention to vacate without paying fees for breaking their lease. In limited circumstances, they may be exempt:

  • Where the RRP has given notice to vacate
  • Where the renter needs personal or special care
  • Where the renter has been offered & accepted into social housing
  • Where the renter needs temporary crisis care accommodation
  • Where the RRP has given the renter notice of intention to sell the property & conduct sales inspections, this is only if the renter was not notified of the proposed sale before moving in.

A rental provider (landlord) must now use a valid reason to issue a notice to vacate to a renter. They cannot give ‘no specified reason’. They must now attach evidence of a change of use, including a building permit or statutory declaration from their family member moving into the premises.


Under the changes, when a renter pays back overdue rent within 14 days, any notice to vacate issued by the RRP for that unpaid rent is invalidated.

A rental provider can now give 14-day’s notice for a renter to vacate for unpaid rent if they owe 14 days or more. However, if the renter pays the overdue rent owed within the 14-day notice period, the notice to vacate is void.

If a renter does not receive any further notices to vacate for unpaid rent in the current 12-month period, their record will be clear after the current 12-month period.

If the renter receives a fifth notice to vacate for unpaid rent within 12 months, the notice is valid even if the renter pays back the rent owed within the 14-day notice period. If the renter does not leave within the 14-day notice period, the rental provider may apply to VCAT for a possession order.

VCA may not dismiss any application because the renter can pay their rent via a payment plan. VCAT is obligated to consider whether eviction would be reasonable and proportionate.

VCAT will first assess whether to place the renter on a payment plan to repay the overdue rent before issuing a possession order. If they are placed on a payment plan and make the payments, VCAT will not continue with a possession order.


Landlords are now unable to refuse consent to pets unreasonably. If they refuse, they will have to apply to VCAT. Additionally, any ‘no pet’ clauses included in agreements after the new laws are not valid.

For rental agreements with ‘no pet’ clauses signed before the new laws came into effect, a landlord or agent may try to threaten eviction. Renters cannot be evicted just for having a pet, even if the lease agreement has a ‘no pet’ clause in it.

For a tenant to be evicted for having a pet before the new laws passed, the landlord must prove that the pet was causing a nuisance, damaging the property or endangering neighbours’ safety. It would be invalid if they tried to give the Notice to Vacate simply for having a pet.

The landlord may apply to VCAT for an order if they feel the renter has breached their agreement by breaching the ‘no pet’ clause. However, VCAT cannot legally evict a tenant for having a pet in breach of their contract.

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