Herald Sun - Property

Rental Act reforms striking a balance

Landmark changes bring new responsibi­lities for landlords, write Alanah Frost and Samantha Landy

- Alanah.frost@news.com.au

All 132 changes to Victoria’s Residentia­l Tenancy Act have come into play, about two and a half years after they passed parliament in 2018. The landmark reforms — which include mandating minimum standards, and updated guidelines for urgent repairs — have been praised by advocates as a “muchneeded safety net” for tenants.

They will also change the responsibi­lities of landlords, who have been rebranded as “rental providers” under the revamped Act.

But Ray White Victoria and Tasmania chief executive Stephen Dullens said for the vast majority of rental properties, “no or very little change” would be required.

“Essentiall­y, it’s a rewrite of the Act to provide a bit of an update in terms of how landlords and tenants interact,” Mr

Dullens said. “Some are really basic, like the property needs to be able to have a functionin­g toilet and hot and cold water.

“The biggest thing for rental providers is understand­ing what those minimum standards are and working with their property manager.

“But we think the reforms strike a pretty good balance (for renters and landlords) and most properties very much comply.”

Landlords will not be able to unreasonab­ly deny renters making a house more “homely” with minor modificati­ons, such as adding picture hooks, vegetable gardens and security systems, and painting — as long as the property is returned to its original condition at the end of the lease, allowing for fair wear and tear.

“They can do this, but they obviously need to let their rental provider know and get approval,” Ray White Victoria property management executive Shaun Doyle said.

“It’s unlikely a renter will want to paint a whole house, but they might want to paint a baby’s room.”

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said safety was at the forefront of the reforms.

“We always wanted legislatio­n that was balanced,” Ms Calnan said. “With the amendments, we’re seeing a higher level of compliance on landlords. And landlords will comply — because everyone should be thinking about safety.

“But … there will be costs for extra management of services for property management and rent will increase.”

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