Landlord Rights and Responsibilities (Vic)
Landlord rights and obligations in Victoria are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. This article describes the rules for landlords during each stage of a tenancy.
Beginning of tenancy
If the landlord employs a real estate agent, the landlord must ensure the agent is licensed and understands their obligations.
A prospective tenant can pay holding deposit, to reserve the property for a specific amount of time. If a prospective tenant signs a rental agreement within 14 days, the holding deposit must be refunded to them.
A bond cannot be an amount of more than 4 weeks’ rent. A landlord cannot require a tenant to pay rent more than 1 month in advance if the rent is more than $350 a week. A written receipt must be provided immediately upon a payment of rent, and rent records must be kept for 12 months.
The rented property should be vacant, clean and in good repair. All floors should be clean and all rubbish should be removed from the premises. There must be nothing in the premises that causes any danger or injury or illness to the tenant. All locks should work properly and a key supplied for each lock. All appliances and equipment need to function and work as they should.
The premises must comply with any health and safety regulations of the local council, and state and federal governments. A tenant can keep a pet at the property if the tenant applies and the landlord consents. A landlord is taken to have consented if they do not apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) within 14 days for an order to refuse consent.
An entry Condition Report must be completed by the landlord after the tenant has paid a bond but before the tenant moves into the property. The report must specify the state of repair or general condition of the premises, and must be signed by the landlord. Within 3 days of moving in, the tenant must sign and return a copy of the report to the landlord, stating whether the tenant agrees or disagrees with the whole or any specified part of the report.
A landlord cannot increase rent before the rental term ends unless the tenancy agreement provides for this. If a rent increase is permitted, the landlord must give a tenant at least 60 days’ notice of it. A tenant can request a rent assessment from Consumer Affairs Victoria, and if the assessment finds the increase is excessive, the tenant can apply to VCAT for an order.
The landlord must pay all charges, levies, premiums, rates and taxes for the property.
The tenant must be given:
- a signed copy of the tenancy agreement;
- a Statement of Rights and Duties booklet from Consumer Affairs Victoria;
- 2 copies of a signed Condition Report (if the bond has been paid);
- a copy of body corporate rules or by-laws;
- the landlord or agent’s name and address and phone number;
- a contact list for emergency repairs.
The landlord must take all reasonable steps to ensure the tenant has quiet enjoyment of the property during the lease. The landlord or agent can enter the property at any time agreed with the tenant if the tenant has been given at least 7 days’ notice, or at any time between 8am and 6pm if a tenant has been given at least 24 hours’ notice via a “notice of entry”, for purposes such as:
- to show the property to a potential buyer or tenant;
- to carry out repairs or maintenance;
- to allow a valuation;
- to investigate a suspected breach;
- for a regular inspection permitted under the lease.
Repairs are considered to be routine unless they are emergency repairs such as when there is a gas leak, flooding, or the failure or breakdown of an essential service such as hot water.
If a tenant breaks any part of the tenancy agreement, a “breach of duty notice” can be issued to them, specifying the breach and a time by which the breach must be rectified. If the breach is not rectified, the landlord can apply to VCAT for a compliance order or compensation order. Rent must be at least 14 days in arrears before a landlord can apply to VCAT for an order related to unpaid rent.
For repeated breaches, a landlord can apply to VCAT to have the tenancy agreement ended.
End of tenancy
A tenancy can end in situations such as:
- when a fixed term agreement has ended;
- by mutual agreement;
- when the tenant has abandoned the property;
- when a mortgagee is to take possession of the property;
- when a sole tenant dies;
- when a tenant defies a VCAT order excluding a pet from the premises;
- when the premises becomes unfit for habitation or is destroyed;
- when VCAT orders that the tenancy be ended.
An exit Condition Report must be completed by the tenant on or about handover day. The report is compared to the entry Condition Report to determine whether the condition of the property is different to when the tenant moved in, considering fair wear and tear. If there are no issues, the bond is refunded. If there is disagreement, Consumer Affairs Victoria or VCAT can be engaged to resolve the dispute.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.