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

Rent increases

If the rental provider (landlord) wants to increase the rent, there are rules about how they notify you of their intention. There are also limits on how often the rent can be increased and some limits on how much it can be increased.

Types of rental agreements

A rental agreement, also often referred to as a lease, may be for a fixed term, for example for a period of 12 months, or periodic, for example month to month. The laws on rent increases may be different depending on the type of agreement you have, and when you entered into that agreement.

Can the rent be increased?

Fixed-term agreements

The rent cannot be increased during a fixed-term rental agreement unless a rent-increase term is included in writing in the rental agreement.

If the fixed-term rental agreement allows for the rent to be increased, it cannot be increased more often than the law allows. There are also rules about how you are given notice of the proposed increase [section 44]. See the section headed ‘Notice of proposed increase’ on this page.

From 29 March 2021, if a new fixed-term rental agreement includes a rent-increase term, the agreement must also provide:

  • The amount of the increase, and that the rent is not increased by more than that amount, or
  • The method by which the increase is to be calculated, and that the rent is not increased more than that calculation method allows [section 44].

Many rental agreements put together by real estate agents include terms about rent increases, so it is important to read the agreement carefully before you sign it. For more information on what terms can and cannot be included see out website page Rental agreements (leases).

If you do not agree to a rent-increase term being included in your agreement you are entitled to negotiate to have it removed or crossed out, particularly as rent-increase terms are not included in the standard prescribed terms for all agreements.

If the rental provider refuses to allow any negotiation of terms that are not standard prescribed terms, your agreement could be seen as being unfair under consumer law.

If you and the rental provider negotiate to cross out a rent-increase term you should all sign next to the change to show everyone has agreed to this.

Note that on this page sections in brackets, such as [section 44], refer to sections in Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997. See the Resources section at the bottom of this page for links to the laws.

Rent increases that are prohibited in rental agreements

The rental provider, or their agent, cannot include any terms in the rental agreement that make you responsible for paying an increased amount of rent if you breach any of the terms of the rental agreement. These sorts of terms are prohibited, and it is an offence to include a prohibited term in a rental agreement [section 26A]. See our website page Rental agreements (leases).

You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), which can issue an infringement notice on the rental provider or agent if they failed to follow the law.

Periodic agreements

For periodic rental agreements the rent can be increased, but not more often than the law allows. There are also rules about how you are given notice of the proposed increase [section 44]. See the section headed ‘Notice of proposed increase’ on this page.

How often can rent be increased?

Fixed-term agreements

The rent cannot be increased at all during a fixed-term rental agreement – unless the written agreement includes a rent-increase term.

Before 19 June 2019

If the fixed-term rental agreement includes a rent-increase term, and you entered into that agreement before 19 June 2019, your rent cannot be increased more than once every 6 months. However, as soon as that fixed-term period ends the ‘window’ for rent increases expands to not more than once every 12 months.

From 19 June 2019

If the fixed-term rental agreement includes a rent-increase term, and you entered into that agreement on or after 19 June 2019, you cannot be given a rent increase more than once every 12 months.

Periodic agreements

Before 19 June 2019

If you started a periodic agreement before 19 June 2019, the law indicates that a rent increase could still be given once every 6 months.

However, Consumer Affairs Victoria, the government regulator on rental laws, takes the position that it does not matter when your periodic agreement started and that the rent cannot be increased more than once every 12 months if you have a periodic agreement.

If you receive a notice of proposed rent increase, and it has been given less than 12 months since you last received a notice of proposed rent increase, we recommend you challenge it by applying to Consumer Affairs Victoria to review the proposed increase. See the Challenging a rent increase section further down this page.

From 19 June 2019

If you have a periodic rental agreement that started on or after 19 June 2019 you cannot be a given a rent increase more than once every 12 months.

Notice of proposed rent increase

The rental provider must give you at least 60 days’ notice in writing that they propose to increase the rent. They must use Consumer Affairs Victoria’s official ‘Notice of proposed rent increase’ form, which must include:

  • The amount of the proposed increase
  • The method by which the increase was calculated
  • Details about your right to apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria to have the proposed increase assessed if you think it is excessive [Section 44]

The notice can only be for one rent increase [section 44].

If the rental provider does not use the official notice form, or it does not meet all these conditions, it is invalid and you do not have to pay the increased amount [section 44].

If you have been given notice that your rent will increase and you think the notice may be invalid, we recommend you contact us, or your local Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) service if you are in a private rental, Tenancy Plus provider if you rent in public housing or community legal centre for advice.

Receiving a notice

The notice of proposed rent increase must be given to you on the official Consumer Affairs Victoria form, by one of these 3 methods:

  • In person, between 8am and 6pm
  • By mail, in enough time for the mail to be delivered to you; check Australia Post delivery times
  • 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 [Sections 44 and 506]

Challenging a proposed rent increase

If you think the proposed rent increase is too high, you can apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria to challenge it.

This is a free service.

Making the application

Your application must be made in writing within 30 days of receiving the notice [section 45]. There are two ways you can apply:

  • Use the ‘requesting an investigation of rent increase’ section on the last page of the official ‘Notice of proposed rent increase’ form that the rental provider must give you
  • Use the Request for repairs inspection or rent assessment form on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website

Send a copy of your request form, along with a copy of the full ‘notice of proposed rent increase’ form the rental provider sent you, to Consumer Affairs Victoria by post or email.

Consumer Affairs Victoria address

Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria
GPO Box 123
Melbourne VIC 3001
Email: renting@justice.vic.gov.au

Consumer Affairs inspection

Once your application has been received Consumer Affairs Victoria will investigate the proposed rent increase [section 45].

This will include arranging for an inspector to come out to your home to look at the condition of the property, the facilities, and any services provided with the property, and compare the rent proposed in the notice with those of similar properties in the same area.

During the inspection you should point out anything that supports your claim that the rent increase is excessive. This could include:

  • The state of repair of the property
  • Problems with the location
  • What similar properties in your area are being rented for
  • Any facilities or services that are provided by you rather than by the rental provider
  • Any work you have done, with the rental provider’s consent or agreement
  • Any change in the rent and condition of the property or facilities since the start of your agreement and since the last rent increase
  • The number of rent increases (if any) in the last 24 months and the amount of each of those increases.

Once the inspector has carried out their investigations, they will give both you and the rental provider a written report with their opinion on the increase [section 45].

If the inspector considers the increase to be too high, they may try to negotiate a fairer rent with the rental provider or real estate agent.

Applying to VCAT

If the inspector thinks the increase is too high, but the rental provider will not reduce it, you can use the inspector’s report to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an order that the increase not be allowed [section 46].

You must apply within 30 days of receiving the inspector’s report [section 46].

If VCAT agrees the increase is excessive it can set a maximum rent at a lower level. It can also set a period up to 12 months, during which the rental provider is not allowed to increase the rent [Section 47].

VCAT will likely only make these orders if the proposed increase would make your rent significantly more than it is for similar properties in the area.

If the increase is due to start before VCAT hears your application, you must pay the increased amount until VCAT has made its decision. If VCAT orders that the increase is excessive and sets a lower maximum rent, it can also order that the rental provider must pay back any increased amounts you have already paid [section 48]. Make sure you ask VCAT for this in your application or at the hearing.

Applying to VCAT without a report from Consumer Affairs Victoria

If you did not apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria to challenge the proposed rent increase, and 30 days have passed since you have received the notice, you can still apply to VCAT if you think the proposed increase is too high. However, before VCAT will hear your application it will need to be satisfied that there were reasonable grounds for you failing to request an investigation by Consumer Affairs Victoria [Section 46].

Negotiating with the rental provider

It is worth trying to negotiate with your rental provider or agent about the rent increase. They may be willing to reduce it, especially if you are an established and reliable renter or you would have to move out because of the increase.

If you do have a Consumer Affairs Victoria inspector’s report, you can also use this to try to negotiate with your rental provider or agent so you do not have to take the next step of going to VCAT. Make sure any agreement you reach is put in writing and signed by you and the rental provider or agent – and that you keep a copy.

Refusing to pay the increase

If you have been given a valid ‘Notice of proposed rent increase’, you will need to pay the extra rent from the start date in the notice in either of these circumstances:

  • You have not challenged the notice
  • You have challenged the notice and the increase is not considered excessive by Consumer Affairs Victoria or VCAT

If you do not pay what is owed, and this gradually adds up to put you 14 days overdue with the rent, the rental provider could give you a 14-day notice to vacate for non-payment of rent and apply to VCAT to have you evicted.

You will be given the chance to present your case at VCAT, but there is always a possibility that you will be evicted. See our website pages Overdue rent and Notice to vacate.

Rent reductions for reduced services or facilities

If the rental provider reduces any services or facilities provided with the property, for example closing a communal laundry, without reducing the rent, you can request from Consumer Affairs Victoria a report about whether you should be given a rent reduction [section 45].

If the report is in your favour, but the rental provider refuses to reduce the rent, you can apply to VCAT for an order that the rent be reduced. You must apply to VCAT within 30 days of receiving Consumer Affairs Victoria’s report [Section 46].

Consumer Affairs Victoria does not have a specific form for you to use to make this request. However, you can make a written request to Consumer Affairs for such a report.

Consumer Affairs Victoria address

Email: renting@justice.vic.gov.au

Post: GPO Box 123, Melbourne VIC 3001

Resources

Related pages

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