What do we need to know about the upcoming Residential Tenancies Act reforms?

The recent announcement of the reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act passing through the Victorian parliament has been the subject of great discussion amongst tenants, landlords and property managers alike. In total 130 reforms have been announced to the existing Act which was introduced in 1997.

There has been a general consensus throughout media publications that the reforms offer greater protections to tenants only, and that landlords have been left exposed to heightened risk. It is true that some of the reforms are of concern due to the increased vulnerability they place on landlords and property managers, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

In our last monthly training session I sat with our team to discuss some of the positive changes in the new reforms which I have provided a brief insight to below:

  • The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria will issue guidelines setting out examples or instances of cleanliness and repair as well as guidelines clarifying the meaning of damage and fair wear and tear. It is our hope that this will reduce the frequency of time-consuming disputes at the end of a tenancy, which can result in costly VCAT attendance for our landlords.
  • Where a claim for compensation or repairs is made by a tenant resulting from fault in a common area of an apartment complex, it will be possible to add the Owners Corporation as a party to the proceeding. This may reduce the direct liability of an individual landlord for any compensation awarded to a tenant.
  • A landlord or their agent will have the right to hold open for inspections twice weekly when a property is listed for sale. Although this will entail a prescribed compensation amount to the tenant, it provides far greater certainty of access and ability to conduct a sales campaign and achieve the desired outcome for the landlord/vendor.
  • A tenant’s responsibility to reimburse a landlord for out of pocket expenses when vacating prior to the end of a fixed term lease will be clearly defined. The existing Act has no specific framework of costs a tenant must pay.
  • The process for storing and disposing of goods left behind by a renter at the end of a residential rental agreement will be simplified, streamlined and modernised.
  • Repeat rent arrears offenders will be able to be held accountable and a tenancy may be able to be terminated if rent is consistently paid 14 days late.

At this stage the reforms are not expected to be introduced in full until July of 2020, however, a staggered introduction of some changes may occur prior.

The team at Motion Property will keep you informed as further information becomes available.