Landlord Rights and Obligations in Victoria
Landlord rights and obligations in Victoria are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA).
Starting a tenancy
The landlord is required to provide a tenancy agreement (in the standard form) to the tenant. The tenant must be given time to read and understand the agreement before signing. The landlord has the right to add special conditions to the agreement; however, they cannot be in contradiction to the rights and obligations contained in the RTA.
A condition report documenting the state of the property must be completed by the landlord and given to the tenant, prior to the tenant moving in.
Landlord rights and obligations in relation to bond
The landlord has the right to take a damage bond at the start of the tenancy. Where the rent is less than $350 per week, the bond cannot exceed more than one months rent. If the rent is over $350 per week or is the landlord’s principal place of residence, there is no limit on the bond amount.
The bond must be lodged with the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA).
Entry to the property
In relation to entry onto the property, landlord rights and obligations in Victoria are set out in the RTA.
The landlord has the right to enter the property; however, they must give the tenant 24 hours notice prior to entry. The entry can only occur between 8 am and 6 pm on any day, except for public holidays. Entry outside of these times and days may occur if both the tenant and landlord agree.
The notice of entry must be in writing and state the reason for entry. A general inspection of the property can only occur once every six months.
The landlord has an obligation to organise repairs to the property. There are two classifications of repairs – urgent and non-urgent. Where the matter is urgent, the landlord must have the repair done immediately. Non-urgent repairs must be carried out within 14 days of being notified of the repair required.
If the property is declared unliveable the landlord can terminate the tenancy agreement immediately.
If the tenant falls more than 14 days in arrears with the rent, the landlord has the right to issue the tenant with a notice to vacate the property. The notice period is 14 days from receipt of the notice.
If the tenant refuses to vacate the property, an application to evict the tenant must be made to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Safety of the property
The landlord is required to ensure the property is safety compliant. This includes:
- ensuring any pools or spas are fenced with self-closing and self-latching gates
- installing and maintaining smoke detectors in the property, and
- ensuring any gas appliances in the property are maintained and safe for use.
In Victoria, the legislation does not stipulate which party is responsible for pest infestations. Generally speaking, when deciding who is responsible, the following will be considered:
- if pests were present prior to the start of the tenancy
- if damage contributed to the pests entering the property
- if something the tenant has done has brought the pests.
If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the matter will need to be decided by VCAT.
The landlord must be cautious not to breach any of their obligations under the RTA. If a breach is reported to Consumer Affairs Victoria, it may result in a penalty or fine being issued to the landlord.
Ending the tenancy
Landlord rights and obligations in Victoria extend beyond the end of the tenancy until the final inspection has occurred and the return of the damage bond has been settled.
At the end of the tenancy, the tenant is required to leave the property clean and free of damage bearing in mind the condition of the property when the tenant moved in (general wear and tear excepted). The landlord will complete a final inspection once the tenant has moved out of the property.
To release the bond both parties are required to sign the Bond Claim form. It is on this form the landlord can claim a proportion of the bond for the following:
- Damage caused by the tenant
- Cleaning or repair costs that exceed normal wear and tear
- Rent or bills owing, or
- Items from the property that are missing.
If the tenant does not agree to the amount being deducted from the bond, and will not sign the Bond Claim form, the parties will have to make an application to the VCAT to settle the dispute.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.
This article reflects the state of the law as at 23 March 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at www.gotocourt.com.au.