The Victorian Government has released an “options discussion paper” as the latest stage in its ongoing review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic). The Government has asked for public submissions on a number of options to update the legislation, with consultation closing on 10 February 2017. The review was originally announced in June 2015 (see TimeBase’s earlier article), with a number of issues papers released for public consultation in 2015 and 2016. According to the Fairer Safe Housing Victoria website, the next step following the options discussion paper will be developing proposals to be introduced to Parliament, which is expected to happen sometime this year (2017).
In a media release, Acting Minister for Consumer Affairs Lily D’Ambrosio called on all Victorian renters and landlords to have their say on the proposals, saying:
“We’re overhauling rental rules so that renters are protected and the laws guiding landlords are up to date… We’re making sure laws around renting strike a fair balance between the rights of people who live in a rental property and the people they rent those properties from.”
To date, the issues papers received a total of 232 written submissions, with 1980 contributors involved. Consumer Affairs Victoria also commissioned market research to gather information that could provide an indication of the extent to which issues identified by stakeholders occurred across the entire Victorian rental market.
The options discussion paper covers a number of proposals, including:
The paper notes that “[s]ecurity of tenure was identified as an important aspect of the review, given that more Victorians are renting their homes for longer”, and that this consideration was a critical one underpinning the reasons for reform:
“Importantly, creating the conditions for a viable or robust rental sector is critical to promoting security of tenure. It is important that both parties feel confident to participate in the sector and contribute to a non-adversarial culture. An environment (the legislative framework and sector practices) that supports positive relationships between tenants and landlords, is one that will support strong security of tenure through enduring tenancies. This is also an underlying consideration that has been applied throughout the options paper.”
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