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

Rental agreements (leases)

The rental agreement between you and the rental provider (landlord) sets out what each of you will do, or not do, while you rent the property. There are laws about what can be included in a rental agreement (lease). We recommend you read this page and any rental agreement you are given carefully before signing or agreeing to anything.

Fixed-term or periodic 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.

Fixed-term agreements are more secure because they make it harder for the landlord to evict you, but can be expensive if you want to move out before the end of the fixed term. Only commit yourself to a fixed-term agreement if you are reasonably sure that you want to stay for the full term of the agreement.

Verbal rental agreements

If you have a verbal agreement or an agreement that is only partly in writing, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which can make an order that the rental provider (landlord) must enter into a written rental agreement with you [section 29B].

A written rental agreement can help you protect your rights as there are laws about what can and cannot be in a written rental agreement.

Written rental agreements

If the rental agreement is in writing, it must be on the form prescribed by Consumer Affairs Victoria [section 26]. This is the template form for all properties rented out from 29 March 2021, when new rental laws started.

It is against the law for a rental provider, or their agent, to prepare a written rental agreement that is not on Consumer Affairs Victoria’s form.

You must be given a copy of the agreement to review before you are asked to sign it [section 29].

Consumer Affairs Victoria template

What must be in a written agreement

The rental agreement must include:

  • When the agreement starts
  • The address of the property
  • The length and type of agreement (fixed term or periodic)
  • Details, including contact details, for you and the rental provider, and their agent if they have one
  • The amount of rent and how it is to be paid – for limits on rent in advance and ways to pay, see our page, Starting a tenancy
  • The amount of the bond –for limits on bond amounts and other laws about bonds, see our page, Bonds
  • Details of who to contact for urgent repairs
  • An option for you and the rental provider to say how notices and documents can be delivered – for information on receiving and giving notices and documents, see our page, Starting a tenancy
  • A summary of your and the rental provider’s rights and obligations
  • Other terms you or the rental provider need to follow

Prohibited terms

From 29 March 2021, when the new rental laws started, some terms are prohibited, or banned. They cannot be included in new rental agreements [section 27B, regulation 11].

It is against the law and an offence for a rental provider, or their agent, to include a prohibited term in a rental agreement [section 26A]. You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria, which can issue an infringement notice on the rental provider or agent if they failed to follow the law.

If a prohibited term is included in the rental agreement it will be invalid and cannot be enforced by the rental provider [section 27].

If the rental provider refuses to remove any prohibited terms you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which can order that a term is invalid [section 28, section 472].

The prohibited terms include any that:

  • Stop you claiming compensation because the property was not available at the start of the rental agreement
  • Require you to pay rent in a way that forces you to pay fees
  • Require you to take out any form of insurance. However, we recommend you get home contents or renter’s contents insurance, as the rental provider’s insurance will not cover your personal belongings.
  • Require you to indemnify the rental provider: for example, a term requiring you to protect or compensate the rental provider if something goes wrong
  • Say the rental provider or their agent are not responsible for their actions or the actions of anyone acting on their behalf while you are renting the property
  • Make you pay for an insurance excess paid by the rental provider for a landlord insurance policy
  • 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 responsible for, or make you pay for, professional cleaning at the end of your agreement, unless this can be requested under the standard terms of the agreement (see standard term 11 on professional cleaning in Consumer Affairs Victoria’s prescribed written rental agreement form)
  • Make you pay for the rental provider’s costs of applying to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
  • Make you pay fixed fees to end your agreement, unless the way these are calculated are in the rental agreement
  • Make you responsible for, or make you pay for, any fees, costs or charges for the preparation of the rental agreement
  • Make you responsible for, or make you pay for, all or part of the remaining rent for the length of the agreement, or increased rent, or a penalty or damages if you breach the rental agreement
  • Say that if you do not breach the rental agreement your rent will, or may, be reduced or that you will, or may, be paid a rebate or other benefit
  • Bind you to something you did not agree to in writing before entering into a rental agreement

Additional terms

A rental agreement may also include additional terms if you and the rental provider agree [section 27A].

However, an additional term will be invalid, and cannot be enforced, if it:

  • Removes, limits or changes any rights or responsibilities of you or the rental provider under the law, or attempts to do so
  • Is a prohibited (banned) term under the law [section 27]

It is against the law to include a prohibited term in a rental agreement [section 26A].

You have a right to negotiate any additional terms and to ask for any you do not agree with, or that are unfair or invalid to be removed before you sign. You can cross out and initial any additional terms that you do not agree to before you sign.

If the rental provider refuses to remove any additional terms that are unfair or invalid, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). It can order that a term is invalid and is excluded, or needs to be altered, if it is harsh, unreasonable or otherwise invalid under the law [section 28, section 472].

You must be given a copy

You must be given a copy of the rental agreement, signed by you and the rental provider, within 14 days of the agreement being signed [section 29].

It is against the law and an offence to not give you a copy of the signed agreement. You can report offences to Consumer Affairs Victoria, which can issue an infringement notice on the rental provider or agent if they failed to follow the law.

Rental provider does not sign

If you sign a rental agreement and return it to the rental provider, or their agent, but the rental provider does not sign it, it will be valid even without that signature if the rental provider or agent:

  • Accepts a rent payment from you
  • Behaves as if the agreement has been signed: for example, they give you a condition report or keys for the property [section 29A]

Older rental agreements

If you entered into an agreement before the new rental laws started on 29 March 2021, and it contains any of the terms prohibited in rental agreements from that date, you can still take action.

You can apply to VCAT to ask for an order that declares invalid any term in your agreement that would affect your rights, or is harsh or unreasonable [section 28, section 472].

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