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

End of the tenancy

Among changes to the laws in effect from 29 March 2021 are that rental providers must now provide evidence for giving renters a notice to vacate in some circumstances and there are new arrangements for getting bonds back.

End of ‘no reason’ notices to vacate

Previously, rental providers could give notices to vacate without having to a provide a reason. This has been removed. Now rental providers will need to have a valid reason if they want to give a notice to vacate.

The only exception to this is an ‘end of fixed term’ notice to vacate, which can be given without a more specific reason, provided the termination date coincides with the end of your fixed term lease. But this sort of notice can only give given at the end of the first fixed-term, it cannot be given for any subsequent fixed term.

Renters may be able to challenge a notice to vacate if they do not think it is valid, or think it has been given in response to a renter exercising, or trying to exercise, their rights.

Evidence for notices to vacate

Some notices to vacate now require evidence to be attached as set out on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website. The list of attachments can be found here:  ‘List of reasons rental provider can ask renters to leave early’.

For example, if the rental provider wants do major renovations, they must provide evidence such as a copy of the relevant building permit with the notice to vacate. If the Notice to vacate is because the rental provider wants to sell the property, they must attach evidence such as the signed contract of sale and their agreement with a sales agent.

Make sure to check that the Notice to vacate has got the correct types of documentary evidence attached to the notice. If it doesn’t, the Notice to vacate may be invalid and VCAT should dismiss rental providers application for a possession order.

To find out about notices to vacate what evidence must be attached to certain types of notices to vacate, see our page, Notices to vacate – documentary evidence.

To find out about Notices to vacate regarding rent arrears see our page, Overdue rent.

Exit condition reports

The rental provider must now complete a condition report within 10 days after the end of the rental. They must give the renter an opportunity to be present when they do this.

Professional cleaning

A new clause in the standard form lease allows rental providers to require a renter to have a property professionally cleaned, or cleaned to a professional standard. This only applies if it was professionally cleaned before the renter occupied the property or this is needed to restore it to same condition it was in before the start of the lease, taking into account fair wear and tear. If the property was professionally cleaned at the start of the tenancy, the rental provider must advise the renter of this before the start of the tenancy.

As a general rule, leaving the property as you found it, apart from fair wear and tear, remains a good guide.

Goods left behind

Some personal possessions a renter leaves behind cannot be destroyed or disposed of by the rental provider. These are:

  • Labelled containers or labelled urns containing human remains
  • Specialised medical devices, equipment and goods including prostheses and prescription medication
  • Medals and trophies

Other goods must be stored for 14 days at the renter’s cost, except for dangerous, perishable goods or those of no monetary value, other than personal documents). Consumer Affairs Victoria reports are no longer required in relation to goods left behind.

A rental provider’s legal responsibilities for storing personal documents left behind remains unchanged, but there are increased penalties for non-compliance.

Getting your bond back

There are new arrangements for getting your bond back.

Renters can apply directly to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RBTA) to claim their bond back, in full, or paying part to the rental provider). The RTBA will then notify everyone on the lease, including the rental provider, of the bond claim.

The rental provider has 14 days to let the RTBA know if they have made an application to VCAT about the bond. Unless the rental provider provides evidence of their application to VCAT within this time, the RTBA will release the bond back to the renter.

Under the law, the rental provider cannot apply directly to the RTBA for any portion of the bond unless the renter has agreed, or the full bond is being returned in full to the renter.

The rental provider must also apply to VCAT within 14 days of the tenancy ending. There is no time limit on when a renter can apply to the RTBA. If a renter anticipates a dispute, they can apply to VCAT. They must apply to VCAT within 14 days of the tenancy ending.

If for any reason the bond cannot be released by the RTBA and the renter is out of time to apply to VCAT they should seek advice as it may still be possible to apply.

Note that the RBTA can release money to third parties if it is directed by a renter or a rental provider who is entitled to the bond.

For more information see our page, Bonds

Family violence and bonds

If a perpetrator of family violence is a co-renter, VCAT may make them liable for some or all of any loss, damage or rent arrears, and order payment of the victim survivor’s part of the bond unaffected by the perpetrator’s acts. While a formal intervention order or domestic violence order is not needed for this matter, proof is needed.

If the perpetrator is not on the lease and there is a current invention order or domestic violence order in force, then VCAT can order that the renter is not liable for any damage or loss caused by the perpetrator.

These protections are discretionary and will depend on evidence put to VCAT.

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