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

Starting a tenancy

There are laws about what can be in a rental agreement (lease), the bond you are asked to pay and how much rent you are asked for in advance. The law also specifies items such as the condition report that you must be given at the start of a new rental.

Applying for a rental property

When you apply for a rental property, there are limits on what information you can be asked for. For example, you cannot be asked about your bond history, including whether a claim has ever been made against your bond. There are also limits on how your personal information is used and a requirement that rental application forms include information on discrimination and other laws that rental providers (landlords) and their agents must follow. Before you enter a rental agreement, see our page, Applying for a rental property.

Before you sign

There are certain matters the rental provider must tell you about the property to help you decide if you want to rent it. Before you enter a rental agreement (lease) see our page, Before you sign.

Minimum standards

From 29 March 2021, properties for rent must meet specified minimum standards before they are rented out [section 65A]. These include standards for locks, windows, heaters, kitchens and bathrooms. For more information, see our page, Minimum standards.

Note that all the sections in brackets on this page, such as [section 65A], refer to Victoria’s Residential Tenancies Act 1997. References in brackets to regulations, such as [regulation 17], are to the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021. See the bottom of this page for links to all of these.

Rental agreements (leases)

A rental agreement is an agreement between you and the rental provider about what each of you will do, or not do, while you are renting the property.

It could be verbal or in writing. It could be for a fixed term, such as for 12 months, or periodic, such as month to month.

There are laws about what form a written rental agreement is in and what it must and must not include. For example, there is now a list of matters a rental provider is banned from including in a rental agreement.

If there is a written tenancy agreement, you must be given a copy before you sign it.

We recommend you carefully read our page, Rental agreements (leases), and any rental agreement you are given, before signing or agreeing to anything.

If necessary, seek legal advice before you sign, especially if the rental agreement contains any additional or prohibited terms.

If you sign a rental agreement, you must be given a copy within 14 days of signing it.

Notices and documents

Receiving notices and other documents

You may be asked to agree to receiving notices and other documents, such as a notice to vacate or a notice of entry, electronically, for example by email or SMS.

You should think about whether it suits you to receive notices electronically instead of by post or in person. If you do not agree to receiving notices electronically, in future if any notice to vacate is sent to you it must be sent by registered post.

When you are thinking about whether it suits you to receive notices by email or SMS, here are some of the matters to consider. You may want to think about whether:

  • You check your emails regularly, or not so often
  • You might not see notices because they could end up in your email account’s spam folder or be rejected by your inbox due to file size limitations
  • You do not always have enough phone or data credit to access your messages or emails
  • It is possible for you to download and read notices sent by SMS on your phone

If it does not suit you to receive documents by email or SMS, you do not have to agree.

If you do agree, make sure you check the details you provided can be clearly read to avoid notices going to a wrong email address or phone number.

If you agree, but later change your mind, you can withdraw your consent.

If you want to withdraw your consent, you must notify the rental provider or their agent in writing, stating that you no longer wish to receive notices or other documents electronically. Make sure you keep evidence that you withdrew your consent.

How you give notices and other documents

The rental provider or agent also has the option to say if they want to receive notices electronically. If they do consent to this, they will need to provide an email address, mobile phone number or other electronic contact details.

If they do not consent, notices and other documents you want to give the rental provider or their agent must be given in person or sent by post – registered post is recommended.

Bond

You may be asked to pay a bond at the start of your tenancy. If your rent is $900 or less a week, you cannot be asked to pay a bond worth more than one month’s rent. [section 31, regulation 17]. For more information about the laws relating to paying a bond and the rental provider’s responsibilities see our page, Bonds.

Rent

Your rental agreement must include the amount of rent, when it is to be paid and the preferred way it is to be paid.

Rent in advance

If your rent is payable weekly, the most you can be asked to pay in advance is two weeks rent [section 41].

If the weekly rent is $900 or less, and the rent is payable monthly, the most you can be asked to pay in advance is one month’s rent [section 40, regulation 17].

Ways to pay

There are many ways rent can be paid. The rental provider must provide an option that does not result in you being charged any extra fees, apart from your usual bank fees.

They can include their preferred payment method in the rental agreement, but if this would result in you having to pay extra fees you do not need to agree to paying your rent this way.

You can insist on a method where you will not be charged extra fees, for example by electronic funds transfer or direct debit [section 42, regulation 19].

It is also against the law for agents, or anyone else including a third party, to charge for the first issue of a rent payment card or for establishing or using direct debit facilities for rent payments [section 51].

Centrepay

If you receive Centrelink payments and want to pay your rent by Centrepay, the rental provider must allow you to pay your rent this way [section 42].

Rent receipts

It is against the law to refuse to issue rent receipts [section 43].

You are entitled to a receipt each time you pay rent. If you pay your rent in person, you must be given a receipt immediately. If you pay in another way, such as direct debit, and you ask for a receipt, it must be given to you within 5 business days.

Even if you do not ask for a receipt at the time you pay, you can still ask for a record of your rent payments within 12 months of the date you paid. You must be given a copy of the record within 5 business days of your request.

Things you should get

At the beginning of your tenancy, the rental provider must give you:

  • A copy of the signed rental agreement [section 29]
  • A key and/or security device such as an entry fob for every renter on the agreement [section 54A]
  • A Renters Guide published by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) [section 66]
  • If you have paid a bond, a bond lodgement form, or an email from the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) with a bond lodgement confirmation request [section 405]
  • 2 paper copies or 1 electronic copy of a completed condition report signed by the rental provider or their agent [section 35]
  • The rental provider’s full name, address where notices and documents can be delivered and their, or their agent’s, telephone and fax numbers [section 66]
  • If there is an agent, a written statement about whether or not the agent can authorise urgent repairs and the amount they can authorise [section 66]
  • An emergency telephone number for the rental provider or telephone and fax number for the agent in case urgent repairs are needed [section 66]

Condition reports

Condition reports are a record of the condition the property at the time you start your rental agreement and at the time you end it.

Before you move into your new home, the rental provider must give you an electronic copy or 2 paper copies of a condition report [section 35].

You have 5 business days from the move-in date in your rental agreement to complete the condition report with you own comments on the property [section 35].

Be thorough with your comments, especially if you disagree with the rental provider’s comments, and take photos and videos. A thorough condition report can help you defend any claims for cleaning or damage that was there before you moved in.

Once you have completed the report, you need to sign it and return a copy to the rental provider or agent. Keep a copy and store it safely in case you need it at the end of your tenancy [section 35].

See our page, Condition reports for more information on entry and exit condition reports, completing a condition report, what to do if you were not given one, using the condition report to report any repairs and what you can do if there is a dispute.

Resources

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