In brief - This is the third article in our five-part series on changes that come into effect on 29 March 2021 impacting landlords (rental providers)
Links to the other articles in the series can be found at the bottom of the page.
Rental providers and estate agents must only advertise or offer premises at a fixed price. They must not invite rental bids or solicit offers of rent higher than the advertised price.
The rent threshold that needs to be met before a rental provider can request a bond, or rent in advance, of more than one month’s rent has increased to $900 per week.
Rental providers can request an additional bond in long-term rental agreements of more than five years if the renter has lived at the rental property continuously for at least five years or the bond is payable in respect of an obligation to restore a renter modification to the premises, and the rental provider has given at least 120 days’ notice.
Repayment of bonds
Renters may now apply to the RTBA for the return of their rental bond. Rental providers may only apply to the RTBA for the return of the rental bond to the renter. A rental provider may apply to VCAT for a bond repayment order or to object to an application by a renter for the return of their bond.
Rent payments and increases
Any method for paying rent can be specified under a rental agreement (other than payment by post-dated cheque), but the rental provider must ensure that a method that incurs no additional cost is reasonably available. Rental providers must permit rent payments via Centrepay and EFT. Rental providers must also disclose any costs that may be incurred by the nominated method prior to the renter entering the agreement.
Rent increases may occur during a fixed-term rental agreement provided that the amount or calculation method for the increase is set out in the rental agreement and this amount or calculation method must be used.
Late payment of rent and possession orders
A new procedure applies in relation to the late payment of rent. On the first four occasions of non-payment of rent in a 12-month period, the rental provider may give the renter a notice to vacate. If the rent is paid within 14 days the notice to vacate is of no effect.
If the rent remains unpaid then the rental provider may apply to VCAT for a possession order. VCAT may place the renter onto a payment plan or make a possession order.
On the fifth occasion of non-payment of rent in a 12-month period, the rental provider may give the renter a notice to vacate, which remains effective regardless of whether the rent is subsequently paid. The rental provider may apply to VCAT for a possession order after expiry of the notice to vacate. VCAT may place the renter onto a payment plan or make a possession order.
VCAT must now consider whether it is reasonable and proportionate to make a possession order taking into account the interests of the rental provider, the renter, co-tenants and neighbours, including considering:
the nature, frequency and duration of the conduct;
whether the breach was trivial or caused by another person;
whether the breach has been remedied;
other orders available to VCAT;
the behaviour of the rental provider; and
any other matter VCAT considers relevant.
Rental providers must now pay for all charges that renters are not liable for, including water charges in respect of premises that are not separately metered. If a renter has been charged for excessive use of a service caused by an infrastructure, building or fixture fault, the rental provider must pay for the costs that exceed the renter's ordinary usage. If a utility supplier has issued an account to the rental provider, the rental provider must deduct any concession or rebate that the renter is entitled to from the amount the rental provider is seeking to recover.
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This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2021.