In brief - This is the second 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 must ensure that the premises complies with the minimum standards (as set out in schedule 4 of the Regulations) on or before the day that the renter occupies the premises.
Rental providers must ensure the premises are provided and maintained in good repair and in a reasonably fit and suitable condition for occupation. This applies regardless of whether the renter was aware of any disrepair before entering into occupation of the premises, the amount of rent payable under the rental agreement or the property’s age and character.
Condition reports may be given electronically, must be in the prescribed form and the renter must now return a signed copy to the rental provider within five business days of occupying the premises. If the rental provider fails to provide a condition report before the renter occupies the premises, a renter may now complete a condition report within five business days of occupation and provide it to the rental provider or their agent. A rental provider or renter may apply to VCAT to amend an inaccurate or incomplete condition report.
Within 10 days of the end of a rental agreement, the rental provider or their agent must complete the condition report in the presence of the renter or in the absence of the renter if they have been given reasonable opportunity to be present when the report is completed.
Keys, security devices and locks
Rental providers must provide each renter with a free set of keys or security device. If renters request additional or replacement keys or devices, rental providers may charge a reasonable fee for these.
Rental providers must ensure that external doors are secured with a working deadlock and that there are locks on all windows that are capable of having a lock. Deadlocks are not required for screen doors attached to an external door with a deadlock or where the premises' external door cannot be accessed because of another security barrier.
A renter and rental provider must undertake safety-related activities set out in the rental agreement if the agreement contains a prescribed term (i.e. one relating to smoke alarms, pool barriers etc.).
Rental providers must keep and produce records of gas and electrical safety checks conducted at the premises.
Modifications to premises
A rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse consent to renters making modifications to the premises that:
do not penetrate or permanently modify the surface, fixtures or structure of the premises;
are required for health and safety purposes;
are reasonable alterations within the Equal Opportunity Act 2010;
are reasonable security measures; or
are necessary to increase the thermal comfort of the premises or reduce energy and water use or cost for the premises.
Urgent and non-urgent repairs
A renter may issue an urgent repair request to a rental provider if the premises do not meet the minimum standards (see above), which include air conditioning, safety devices and any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure, including pest infestations, or mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure.
The money limit for renters to authorise urgent repairs when their rental provider has not promptly responded to an urgent repair request has been increased to $2,500. The rental provider must reimburse the renter for the cost of urgent repairs within 7 days of the renter giving written notice of the reasonable cost of the repairs.
The Director of Consumer Affairs will issue guidelines clarifying timeframes for responding to urgent repairs. VCAT must consider the Director's guidelines when determining an urgent repairs dispute.
Renters may apply to VCAT to carry out specified non-urgent repairs if the renter has given a repair notice and the rental provider has not carried out notified repairs within 14 days of the notice. Renters may still request a repairs report from Consumer Affairs Victoria but a repairs report is no longer required to apply to VCAT.
Reimbursement of repairs
Renters must reimburse rental providers for the reasonable cost of repairs relating to a repair notice issued by a rental provider within 14 days of the completion of the repairs and notice of the cost of the repairs. Renters may apply to VCAT or the rental provider for an extension of 14 days to the deadline to pay the reimbursement if they are experiencing hardship.
Joining owners corporation to breach of maintenance duty application
Where an application is made to VCAT for a breach of duty and the alleged disrepair involves damage or defects to common property that adjoins the premises, the rental provider may join the owners corporation responsible for the common property as a party to the application.
Click on the links below to read more:
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.