New Victorian tenancy reforms ‘strike good balance’: Ex-REIV CEO
 
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New Victorian tenancy reforms ‘strike good balance’: Ex-REIV CEO

By Sasha Karen
Good balance, tenancy legislation, Real Estate Institute of Victoria, rental market

The former CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Victoria has commented on the recent legislative changes brought forward by the Victorian Government, saying that they “enhance everyone’s experience in the rental market”.

On October 8, the Victorian Government announced six areas receiving reforms to Victorian tenancy law in order to make renting fairer, giving tenants more rights by amending the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.

The major changes of the reforms are:

Rent security

  • Removing the 120 day "no specified reason" notice to vacate
  • Only allow for landlords to end tenancies via an "end of fixed term" notice to vacate and the end of the fixed term
  • Past this, tenancies can only be ended by landlords on grounds specified in the RTA, emphasising longer term leasing
  • Tenants with "end of fix term" notices can give 14 days’ notice to leave and cease paying, rather than to the end of the tenancies
  • More protections for landlords and tenants for terms longer than five years

Tenant rights

  •  Introduce a commissioner for residential tenancies and a landlord blacklist to give tenants further protections

Bonds

  • Bonds will be repaid if both tenant and landlord agrees within 14 days
  • The bond can be released up to 14 days early before the tenancy is over, up from seven days
  • Bonds for rents less than double the median weekly rent (totalling $760) can only be four weeks rent
  • Reimbursements for urgent repairs will need to be made within seven days, down from 14 days

Rent pricing

  • Rent increases will be allowed once every 12 months, as opposed to every six months
  • Rental bidding will not be allowed

Pets

  • Landlords will not be allowed to unreasonably refuse pets and cannot refuse consent for assistance dogs

Modifications

  • Landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse minor modifications

These reforms are not yet currently in place, as the process to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 is underway.

Changes mostly good: Ex-REIV CEO

The former CEO of the REIV and current CEO of view.com.au, Enzo Raimondo, said that the changes brought forward will strike a good balance between giving tenants and landlords equal standing rights.

“The reform proposed by the government in Victoria is to make the rental market a bit more balanced and give tenants some more flexibility,” Mr Raimondo said.

Mr Raimondo agreed with the decisions for more protections on longer term leases, pets, the bond capping, rental bidding and minor modifications, but disagreed with the concept of the blacklist, saying it was redundant.

“VCAT is there already to deal with people who don't do the right thing; that's where a lot of the rental disputes end up,” the CEO said.

“I don't think having a blacklist of landlords or agents serves any purpose.”

Mr Raimondo said that he received a message from the government stating that these changes would be coming into effect next year, but he would personally want to see the changes come into effect now.

He said: “My experience dealing with governments as a former REI CEO in a number of states is that these things usually take about six months to go through the lower and upper house, and then introduction period to educate both the industry and the community.

“I suspect it'll be in the first quarter of next year would be the earliest it might come in, and possibly the middle of next year, but that's just my guess. I'd like to see it come in as soon as possible.”

Mr Raimondo also said that if these changes go through, he could see their adoption by other states.

“We saw that in the past with some underquoting legislation. We saw that with some of the auction legislation, the bidding legislation, so I think, yes, they will be.

“When you look at Sydney and Melbourne, and to a lesser degree, Brisbane, where you have the majority of the rental accommodation and the apartments and the rental... by the sheer volume of rental accommodation, anything that makes people's enjoyment of their property adds value.

“This is 2017 now, it's not the 1950s, and a lot of this stuff, legislation takes a while to keep up with current trends and community expectations, and this is a positive move which addresses some of the imbalances [which have] been there for a long time.”

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New Victorian tenancy reforms ‘strike good balance’: Ex-REIV CEO
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