Victoria Releases Draft Residential Tenancies Regulations

Monday 25 November 2019 @ 1.48 p.m. | Legal Research

On 12 November 2019, the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety released the draft Residential Tenancies Regulations 2020 (Vic) (“the draft Regulations”) for public consultation. The draft Regulations are scheduled for implementation by 1 July 2020, in time to support amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) (“the Act”) by the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 (Vic) (“the Amending Act”), that are yet to commence.

The Amending Act provides for over 130 reforms to the Act, aiming to strengthen the rights of renters, protect vulnerable tenants, and clarify renter responsibilities. Its corresponding bill was discussed in a previous Timebase article. The uncommenced amendments under the Amending Act are still to be proclaimed, or will commence by 1 July 2020 at the latest.

The Draft Regulations

The draft Regulations includes provisions that cover:

  • Private rental housing
  • Public and social housing
  • Rooming houses
  • Caravan parks
  • Residential parks

The draft Regulations propose various changes in regards to safety obligations of both renters and rental providers. These provisions clarify the responsibilities of both parties in the context of a rental agreement. Under the draft Regulations rental providers would be responsible for bi-yearly electrical and gas safety checks. These checks include:

  • Ensuring that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working condition
  • Testing and replacing the batteries of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Checking and maintaining pool fences
  • Maintaining and cleaning a water tank for properties in bushfire-prone areas

Rental providers will also be responsible for maintaining a record of the checks completed. For renters, they must give notice when smoke or carbon monoxide alarms or pool fences are not working correctly, and they must not remove, interfere, or deactivate the prescribed safety devices.

The draft Regulations also propose reforms regarding information that must be disclosed prior to entering into a rental agreement. These provisions aim to improve a renter’s ability to accurately compare their rental options and make an informed decision in regards to the rental agreement. This is particularly so regarding security of tenure. Under the draft Regulations, rental providers would have to disclose (if known), information including:

  • If a homicide has occurred on the property or common property within the past 5 years
  • If the use, storage, trafficking, or cultivation of drugs has occurred on the premises
  • If the property is or will be affected by either a building or planning application that has been submitted to the proper authorities
  • For caravan parks, disclosure must be made where either the park or site has been liable to flooding

The draft Regulations also make additional mandatory disclosure provisions regarding embedded electrical networks and exit fees.

The draft Regulations include further provisions that pertain to:

  • Rental minimum standards, including heating in a property, working locks, vermin-proof bins, hot and cold water in a bathroom, privacy coverings on windows
  • Compensation for sales inspections (paid by landlords to renters)
  • The authorised amount for urgent repairs and urgent site repairs
  • Modifications permitted for renters to rental properties
  • Professional cleaning terms in rental and rooming house arrangements
  • Maximum bond amounts
  • Information that a rental provider must not request from applicants
  • Family and personal violence
  • Additional updates to forms for renters and landlords

Consultation Process

Some of the guiding questions provided by the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety, include:

“The proposed Regulations include transitional arrangements and phasing for the heating, window coverings and electrical safety minimum standards. Do these timelines provide adequate time for rental providers to adjust?

The [Regulatory Impact Statement of the draft Regulations] proposes 13 separate rental minimum standards plus an additional heating standard, which includes an energy efficiency requirement for Class 1 rental properties. Would a smaller subset of these proposed rental standards be better?

The proposed Regulations prescribe other matters that the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) must take into account when determining an application to terminate a rental agreement because of family or personal violence. Are there other matters that should also be considered for prescription in the proposed Regulations?”

Consultation on the draft Regulations is currently open. Further details on submissions and the progress of the consultation can be found on the State Government of Victoria website.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

[Draft] Residential Tenancies Regulations 2020 (Vic) and supporting documents available from TimeBase LawOne Service

New regulations for rental housing (Department of Justice and Community Safety, 12 November 2019)

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