Renting With a Pet And Other Changes (Vic)
Significant changes were made to the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) in August 2018. Among the changes are provisions setting minimum standards for rental properties, making it easier to rent with a pet and various other amendments designed to protect the rights of tenants. This page summarises the effect of the changes.
Renting with a pet
Under section 71A of the Act, Victorian tenants are now allowed to keep a pet with the consent of their rental provider or by order of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
If a tenant proposes to keep a pet on a rental property, they must apply in writing to their rental provider for consent to do so. The rental provider must not unreasonably refuse such a request.
A rental provider will be deemed to have consented to a request unless they apply to VCAT within 14 days of receiving the request for an order that it is reasonable to refuse consent to keep a pet on the property.
When a rental provider applies to VCAT for such an order, the tribunal may:
- make an order that it is reasonable to refuse to allow a pet at the premises
- make an order excluding the pet from the premises.
In determining whether it is reasonable to refuse to consent to the keeping of a pet, VCAT may consider:
- the type of pet proposed
- the character and nature of the premises
- the character and nature of the appliances fixtures and fittings at the premises
- whether refusing the pet is permitting under any act
- any other matter it considers relevant.
Section 65A of the Act provides that rental providers now have to ensure the compliance of rental properties with minimum standards in respect of security, amenities and privacy and face penalties for non-compliance.
These minimum requirements include:
- A vermin-proof rubbish bin;
- A functioning toilet;
- Adequate hot and cold water connections;
- External windows with functioning latches;
- A functioning cooktop, oven, sink and food preparation area;
- A functioning deadlock on external doors;
- Functioning heating in the living room;
- Window coverings to ensure privacy in bedrooms and main living area.
If a property does not comply with these minimum standards, a tenant may issue a request for urgent repairs to be carried out.
Failure to comply with minimum standards may result in the rental provider being fined, ordered to complete urgent repairs, or in the termination of the rental agreement.
The Act now also contains several provisions aimed at protecting victims of family violence, including allowing for the termination of rental agreements because of family violence and allowing renters to challenge a notice to vacate on the basis of family violence.
A provision has also been introduced to the effect that a person subjected to family violence cannot be personally cross-examined by the perpetrator of the violence in a VCAT proceeding.
Other states and territories also have residential tenancy provisions that address the situation where a tenant is a victim of family violence. In some jurisdictions, this is limited to situations where a family violence order is in place, while others provide for situations of family violence regardless of whether an order is in place.
Termination of leases
Section 91ZK of the Act now allows rental providers to terminate rental agreements where the tenant has seriously threatened or intimidated them or their employee or agent.
Section 91ZM of the Act now allows for termination of a lease for non-payment of rent by the tenant for the first, second, third or fourth time, upon giving a notice to vacate to the tenant. If the rent is not paid before the termination date, the landlord may apply to the tribunal for a possession order.
If a tenant defaults in the payment of rent for the fifth time, the lease may be terminated by giving the tenant a notice to vacate. In this case, the notice to vacate remains in effect even if the rent is paid before the termination date and the landlord may apply for a possession order.
The amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act have been touted as a watershed moment in the regulation of Victoria’s rental market which brings the state’s tenancy laws into line with the realities of the modern rental market.
The changes reflect the reality that a growing number of Victorians are renting long-term and that additional protections are needed to protect the rental population.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Go To Court Lawyers.