This information is a guide and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

Privacy and entry

You have a right to quiet enjoyment of your home by law. Rental providers (landlords) and real estate agents have some rights of entry, but must follow the laws about when and how they can enter your home. If they do not, you do not have to let them in.

What the law says

Rental providers or agents

The rental provider or their agent can enter your home if:

  • The reason they wish to enter is allowed under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, and
  • They have given you proper written notice, the minimum notice period, and said why they want to enter, and
  • The entry is between 8am and 6pm, but not on public holidays [sections 85 and 86]

If the reason for entry is not allowed under the law, they can only enter if you have agreed to allow them, no more than 7 days before the day they want to enter [section 85].

If someone else needs to enter, for example a tradesperson for repairs, they can also enter if the above requirements have been met [section 85].

Anyone entering your home must:

  • Do so in a reasonable manner, and
  • Not stay any longer than is necessary to achieve the purpose of the entry [section 87]

It is an offence for the rental provider or agent to enter your home if they have not followed the entry requirements under the law, unless they have a reasonable excuse, such as an emergency situation [section 91A].

You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) which can issue an infringement notice on the rental provider or agent if they have failed to follow the law. You can also apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), for a restraining order.

Note that sections in brackets, such as [section 87], refer to sections in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Renters

The renter must allow entry if the rental provider, or their agent, has followed all the laws [section 89].

However, if the rental provider or their agent has not followed the laws, the renter:

  • Does not need to allow the entry, and
  • Can apply to VCAT for an order stopping them from entry

Reasons for entry

The law sets out the reasons a rental provider or their agent can enter a rental property but only if all other requirements under the law have been met [sections 86 and 89A].

These reasons, along with the amount of written notice you need to be given, are:

  • If a notice to vacateor a notice of intention to vacate has been given and will expire in less than 21 days, and they want to show the property to a prospective renter, including having open for inspections, at least 48 hours written notice is required
  • If the property is being sold or needs to be used as security for a loan and they want to show the property to a prospective buyer or lender, including open for inspections, at least 48 hours written notice is required
  • To take photos or videos for advertising the property for rent or sale, at least 7 days written notice is required
  • If the property is being valued, at least 7 days written notice is required
  • If they need to carry out a duty under the law or from your rental agreement (lease), for example to undertake repairs or to check the smoke detector is working, at least 24 hours written notice is required
  • To carry out a routine inspection but the first inspection can only be done after you have lived at the property for at least 3 months, then only once every 6 months after that, at least 7 days written notice is required
  • To carry out an inspection of the property if a VCAT application has been made to end a rental agreement, or make a new rental agreement, in circumstances of family or personal violence, at least 24 hours written notice is required. For more information see our page, Family violence and your tenancy
  • If they have reasonable grounds to believe you have not followed your duties under the law or your rental agreement, for example, they believe you have caused damage to the property, at least 24 hours written notice is required [section 86]

Notice of entry

Unless the rental provider or agent follows the correct procedures, it is an offence for them to enter your premises without a reasonable excuse [section 91A].

The notice of entry must:

  • Be in writing
  • State the reason under the law that allows for the entry
  • Be given to you in advance to ensure you are given the minimum notice period [sections 88 and 86]

The notice of entry can be given to you:

  • In person between 8am and 6pm
  • By mail – however the rental provider must add enough time for the mail to be delivered.
  • By electronic communication, such as email, if you have given written consent to receive notices this way. See our page, Starting a tenancy for more information on consenting to have notices sent electronically [section 88]
Australian Post

Negotiate an entry time

If you have been given proper notice of entry for a legally allowable reason you have a duty to allow the entry in most cases. You must allow entry even if the time does not suit you or you won’t be home. However, you may be able to negotiate a time that suits you better.

Sales inspections

If the purpose of the entry is to show prospective buyers the property, the rental provider or agent can only enter if they have made all reasonable efforts to come to an agreement with you on days and times for the property to be available for inspection [section 86].

If they have not made all reasonable efforts to come to an agreement, you do not need to allow the entry.  You can also apply to VCAT for an order specifying and limiting when entry may occur by the rental provider and their agent, including any sales agent or any other people [section 89].

Entries for advertising purposes

If the purpose of the entry is to take photos or videos for advertising the property for rent or sale, the rental provider or agent must make a reasonable attempt to come to an agreement with you on a suitable time for entry.

Open for inspections

Provided the rental provider and their agent follow all the laws relating to entries and the proper notice requirements, they can conduct open for inspections if the property is being rented or sold.

These cannot take place more than twice a week and cannot last for more than an hour.

For more information on additional notices and other requirements that rental providers need to follow when they are selling your rental property, including compensating you for holding an open for inspection, see our page, Rental home is being sold.

Family or personal violence

If you are a protected person under an intervention order, the law allows you to require that any inspection is by appointment only, and not by an open for inspection [section 86].

Intervention orders includes family violence intervention order; family violence safety notice, personal safety intervention order, or recognised non-local domestic violence order.

Remember, it is an offence for the rental provider or agent to enter your home if they have not followed the proper entry requirements under the law, unless they have a reasonable excuse, such as an emergency situation [section 91A].

For more information, see our page, Family violence and your tenancy.

You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria which can issue an infringement notice to the landlord or agent if they have failed to follow the law. You can also apply to VCAT for a restraining order.

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Photos and videos

If a rental provider or agent wants to enter your home to take photos or videos for advertising extra laws apply [section 89A].

Renter’s right to object

You can object to the taking of photos or videos if they would:

  • Directly identify you or someone else living with you
  • Reveal sensitive information about your or someone else living with you
  • Show something that is valuable that would increase the risk of theft at your home, and
  • It would be unreasonable to expect you to remove or conceal such an item

Family and personal violence

You can also object to the taking of photos or videos if they might identify anyone living there who is at risk of family or personal violence.  or more information see our page, Family violence and your tenancy.

Object in writing

If you want to object to photos and videos being taken for any of these reasons you must put your objection in writing and give that written notice to the rental provider or agent.

In this case the rental provider or their agent must not take or produce photos or videos that you have objected to.

Review the images

If you gave written notice objecting to photos or videos that would show any of the above, the law says that before they can be used to advertise the property you can ask to review them to ensure they do not reveal anything you objected to.

If you have asked to review them, the rental provider or their agent must not use them to advertise the property before you have reviewed them, and you have given your written consent for their use.

Old images

If it has been more than 12 months since a photo or video was taken for advertising purposes, the rental provider or the agent must get your written consent before they can use the images.

Other images

If a photo or video was taken for a reason other than advertising, such as a photo taken during a routine inspection, and the rental provider or their agent wants to use these for advertising purposes they must get your written consent beforehand.

Restraining orders

It is an offence for the rental provider or agent to enter your home if they have not met the proper entry requirements unless they have a reasonable excuse, such as an emergency situation.

If the rental provider or agent has not met the proper entry requirements or have been making frequent or harassing visits you can apply to VCAT for a restraining order.

This also applies to harassing phone calls or letters, as these are a breach of your right to quiet enjoyment.

A restraining order can prohibit or restrict the rental provider or agent from entering the premises or contacting you. It can be enforced by the police.

It is an offence for the rental provider or agent to breach a restraining order. They can be prosecuted.

You can also report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria, which can issue an infringement notice on the rental provider or agent if they have failed to follow the law [section 91A].

For more information see our page, Family violence and your tenancy.

Notice for breach of duty

You can also give the rental provider a notice for breach of duty if they have breached your right to have quiet enjoyment of your home. Notices for breach of duty can tell the rental provider to:

  • Fix the problem
  • Not commit the same or similar breach
  • Pay you compensation for any loss you have suffered because of their breach of duty

For more information see our page, Rental provider breaches and other notices.

Compensation

You can apply for compensation if:

  • Any of your belongings are damaged or stolen during an entry to your home [section 90]
  • The rental provider or agent has breached their duty to make sure you have quiet enjoyment of your home [sections 67, 209, 210]

You are also entitled to compensation for interference to your quiet enjoyment during any open for inspections held when your rental property is being sold.

For more information see our pages, Compensation for renters and Rental home is being sold.

Changing locks

We do not usually recommend renters change locks to protect their privacy unless they need to do so for their safety, such as where there is family or personal violence or a risk of this.

However, if do you change any lock at the property you must give the rental provider a copy of the key. If you refuse, they can serve you with a breach for duty notice.

In addition, you must first get the rental provider’s permission to change any lock that is part of a master key system. For example, one master key that fits several locks of all the doors in one block of flats. If the rental provider opposes the lock change without good reason you can apply to VCAT for an order that you be allowed to change it without their consent.

Changing locks: family or personal violence

Intervention orders [section 70A]

If you are a protected person under a family violence intervention order, family violence safety notice, personal safety intervention order or recognised non-local domestic violence order and the respondent (the person who committed the violence) is excluded from your home, you have the right to change the locks to external doors and windows, including a lock in a master key system. To take this action you do not need to have your name on the lease, but you do need to live at the property.

For more information see our page, Family violence and your tenancy.

New rental agreements – VCAT orders [section 70B]

You also have the right to change the locks to external doors and windows, including a lock in a master key system if VCAT has made an order terminating your current rental agreement and creating a new rental agreement that does not include the name of the perpetrator (the person who committed the violence).

Keys for other renters and the rental provider or agent

If you change the locks under either of these laws, you must give a key to any other renters living in the property, but you do not need to give one to the respondent or perpetrator.

You must also give a key for the new lock to the rental provider or agent and a copy of the intervention order or safety notice to the landlord or agent.

The rental provider or agent must not give a key for the new lock to:

  • A respondent on an order or notice as long as the order or notice is current
  • A perpetrator who has been removed from a rental agreement by a VCAT order

Help is available

If you need help to pay for the locks to be changed, you may be able to apply to the Victorian Government’s Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) for urgent financial assistance. For more information call the government’s Victims of Crime helpline on 1800 819 817 .

Your local community legal centre may also be able to assist with intervention orders.

VOCAT and the government’s The Orange Door service can connect you to services for legal and financial support.

Confidentiality

There are laws that control how real estate agents are allowed to use your personal information. If you have any complaints about the way that your personal information is being used, contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on 1300 363 992 or make a written complaint to Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

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