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

Before you rent

New laws for renters in effect from 29 March 2021 include a ban on rent bidding, and information you must be given to help you decide whether to apply for the property.

Information before you rent

The terms landlord and tenant no longer appear in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. Instead, they are now called residential rental provider (landlord), which we shorten to rental provider, and renter (tenant).

Agents and rental providers now must give the renter specific information about the property before it is rented. This should help renters decide whether they want to go ahead with their application.

Before signing the agreement, the agent or rental provider must tell the renter:

  • If they are intending on selling the property
  • If they are not the owner, that they have the right to rent out the property
  • If they have a mortgage over the property, whether any action is being taken by the lender to take possession of the property
  • If there is an embedded energy network – the name and contact details, and where to find details of the electricity charges. An embedded energy network is a joint supplier to all the apartments in a development
  • If there has been a homicide on the property in the last 5 years
  • If the property complies with new rental minimum standards
  • If the rental provider has received a repair notice for mould or damp related to the building structure within the last 3 years. This will only apply from 21 December 2021
  • The date of the most recent safety checks, for gas, electrical safety and pool barrier compliance, and any outstanding recommendations for work on the property’s gas or electricity
  • If the property is heritage listed
  • If the rental provider knows about:
    • Contamination because of drug trafficking or cultivation on the property within the last 5 years
    • Asbestos found after inspection by a qualified inspector
    • A building or planning application lodged about the property
    • Any notice, report or order about a building defect or safety concern
    • A current building work dispute
    • An owners’ corporation dispute

The agent or rental provider must provide:

  • A copy of any owners’ corporation rules applying to the property
  • A statement about discrimination, which sets out examples of discrimination and lists the grounds for which an estate agent or rental provider cannot discriminate against you.

Things you cannot be asked

Agents and rental providers cannot ask you for certain information when you apply to rent.

They cannot ask:

  • If you have been involved in legal action or a dispute with a rental provider
  • About your previous bond history, including if you had a claim made against you
  • For bank statements with your daily transactions
  • Information that may allow them to discriminate against you, unless the reasons for asking for this information is required and explained in writing. For example, they cannot ask about your sexuality, whether you have children, whether you have a disability, or about your nationality or religion

Use of your information

Information that you give a rental provider or agent can only be used for the purpose for which you gave it – that is, applying for the property.

Terms no longer used on leases

Some terms can no longer be included in the rental agreement, or lease.

These include any terms that:

  • Require you to indemnify the rental provider
  • Stop you claiming compensation because the property was not available at the start of the rental agreement
  • Require payment of rent in a way that results in you having to pay fees
  • Require you to use a third-party service provider, except for an ‘embedded energy network provider’ where power is supplied jointly, such as to all apartments in a building
  • Make you responsible for, or make you pay for, any safety related maintenance that is the rental provider’s responsibility
  • Make you pay for the rental provider’s costs of applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
  • Make you pay for an insurance excess paid by the rental provider for a landlord insurance policy
  • Make you pay fixed fees to end your agreement, unless the way these are calculated are in the rental agreement

Bonds and rent bidding

Bond limit

The bond is capped at 4 weeks rent if the weekly rent is $900 or less. So, if your rent will be less than $3901 per month, your bond must be the equivalent of 4 weeks rent or less.

Rent bidding

If agents and rental providers advertise a property for a fixed amount they cannot invite offers of a higher rent or engage in rent bidding.

For more information see our page Bonds.

Keys to your home

You must be given one set of keys, or security fobs, for the property for each renter on the lease. If you need more keys, you can be charged a reasonable fee for these.

Family violence and house locks

If you are a protected person under a family violence intervention order, also called a domestic violence order, or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has made an order to change a lease to exclude a perpetrator, you can change the locks. You need to give a copy of the key to the rental provider, and, if you do not have a VCAT order, a certified extract of the intervention order (including an interim intervention order). The rental provider is not allowed to give a copy of the key to the perpetrator.

Condition report

The rental provider must give you 2 copies of a completed and signed condition report before you begin to occupy the property. This can be an electronic copy of the report.

You will have 5 business days to return the report to the rental provider. The condition report is evidence of the condition of the property. Changes you make to the report are deemed to be notice to the rental provider of defects and outstanding repairs.

Renters and rental providers can apply to VCAT to amend an inaccurate condition report within 30 days after the rental agreement starts.

New requirements at the end of the rental mean that the rental provider must complete an exit condition report, which is part of the new condition report form, within 10 days after the end of the rental. They must give you a reasonable opportunity to be present at the time this is done.

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