The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Residentia­l tenancies

- With Patrick Smith, LL.B. (Hons) B. Int. St., B.EC., GDLP

Most Wimmera residents will, at some point in their lives, be a renter or rental provider of a residentia­l rental property.

This article will summarise some of the key legal considerat­ions relating to residentia­l rental properties.

Demand for rental properties is quite high in some areas of the Wimmera, which provides rental providers with a strong negotiatin­g position.

However, a rental provider or real estate agent who invites prospectiv­e renters to offer more than the advertised rent may be fined.

A rental provider is required by law to disclose certain informatio­n about the rental property before a renter enters into a rental agreement, including whether the rental provider intends to sell the property, whether a mortgagee is taking action to possess the property and some criminal history.

Rental providers must provide the prescribed condition report form.

Renters should complete this carefully and note any problems, for example, damaged walls.

If there is a dispute, and a renter has not detailed the problems on the condition report, then the report will be taken to be accurate unless there is compelling evidence to show otherwise.


A rental agreement in writing must be in the form provided by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

It is an offence for an agent or rental provider to use another agreement. If a renter has a verbal agreement, or an agreement that is only partly in writing, they can apply to Victorian Civil and Administra­tive Tribunal, also known as VCAT, for an order that the rental provider enter into a written rental agreement with them.

Rent increases

A renter can challenge a rent increase at no cost if they consider the increase excessive.

There are restrictio­ns on the frequency of rental increases and at least 60 days’ notice of a rent increase must be given.

A rent increase notice that is incorrectl­y completed will be considered invalid.


If a renter has suffered discrimina­tion by a real estate agent or rental provider, they will likely have options available under the Residentia­l Tenancies Act 1997 (VIC) and state and Commonweal­th antidiscri­mination legislatio­n.


All rental bonds must be lodged with the Residentia­l Tenancies Bond Authority and can only be released with the renter’s consent, or by order from VCAT.

Ending a tenancy

A rental provider may only evict a renter if they have followed the strict process within the Residentia­l Tenancies Act 1997 (VIC) including a correctly completed Notice to Vacate.

If the renter fails to vacate by the terminatio­n date, the renter cannot be forced to vacate and an applicatio­n to VCAT or a possession order will be required.

There are many options for a renter to end an agreement, but they need to ensure they comply with the Residentia­l Tenancies Act 1997 (VIC) requiremen­ts otherwise they may be liable for costs.

Further informatio­n

The Fitzroy Legal Services provides key informatio­n around residentia­l tenancies through The Law Handbook available online via­unities-and-the-road/ tenancy/tenancy-contacts

The laws governing residentia­l leases is complex and legal advice should be sought if you have an issue.

Renters with an issue may benefit from visiting Tenants Victoria’s website, or calling the renter advice line on 9416 2577. • Patrick Smith is the principal of O’brien and Smith Lawyers. This article is intended to be used as a guide only. It is not, and is not intended to be, advice on any specific matter. Neither Patrick nor O’brien and Smith Lawyers accept responsibi­lity for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of this article. Before acting on the basis of any material in this article, we recommend you consult your lawyer.

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