A disaster coming or “finally, things will be fairer”? Whatever your opinion, new laws (flagged before the last election) are about to be activated in Victoria. Fairly strong opinions are held on this topic. Some changes aren’t too contentious. Others definitely are.
By July, all the new regulations will be in place. Submissions on the proposed changes and the ways of enforcement closed in December. The final draft will be available by May to give owners, tenants and agents the time to adjust and take whatever action is required. By the way, from now on, they will be known as rental providers and renters instead. Just a little bit of subtle social engineering.
Whatever form the regulations take, what is clear is that the following changes will take place. Starting soon, before the main changes, renters will have the right to keep pets, with very few exceptions. The starting assumption will effectively be that they can, with the onus on the rental provider (RP) to apply to VCAT to prove why they shouldn’t.
There are quite several seemingly straight forward changes which are actually going to be quite challenging for RP’s, such as a requirement for disclosure for a number of matters. Examples are the need to disclose if there is an intention to sell and also if there is asbestos in the property. Since an intention to sell is fairly subjective and virtually every home in the Melbourne ‘burbs built more than 30 years ago has at least some asbestos, this is a real sleeper.
Minimum standards is where opinions will vary widely on what is reasonable. The changes here are significant. Items such as heating in the living room, a deadlock on the entry doors, fully functional hot and cold water in the bathroom and kitchen, oven, cooktop and sink, and blinds to be in the bedroom and living room. Apart from the fact that some older homes do not currently have heating in the living room (and many don’t have deadlocks) and are charged out accordingly, all of these features will not only be required immediately, but they will also fall under urgent repairs provisions. This means that if any is absent or faulty, the RP must fix immediately, or the renter can organise to have it fixed themselves. With the limit on the cost now removed. For RP’s this is genuinely frightening.
There are many other changes, including having to pay renters to access the property when selling, restricting the number of inspections available and removing the right to right terminate a tenancy by a RP without an approved specific reason.
Big changes that will reduce the attraction of property as an investment and will definitely be more complicated. Maybe that is seen by the Victorian Government as a benefit by reducing demand? Time will tell the degree of the unintended consequences.
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