Rental providers beware!
In March 2021, the Victorian Government passed the most significant changes to rental laws in living history.
According to Consumers Affairs Victoria, the “changes were introduced to expand the rights and responsibilities of renters and rental providers (landlords) and will make renting in Victoria fairer and safer”.
The legislation ensures rental providers meet the minimum standards required of their property, and if the property does not meet minimum standards, renters can end their rental agreement (lease) before moving in or they can request an urgent repair.
The minimum standards are divided into 14 categories and include requirements such as:
- all rooms being free of mould or damp caused by or related to the building structure;
- rental properties must have adequate ventilation in all rooms including the bathroom, shower, toilet, and laundry; and
- meeting electrical safety standards by having modern style switchboards, with circuit breakers and electrical safety switches installed.
These are just a few requirements in a long list of standards rental providers must abide by, however, according to Re-define Real Estate owner, Philip Middlemiss, more can be done to ensure minimum standards are met.
“Agents have less time now, and routine inspections are a time-consuming process when you have a portfolio of hundreds of properties,” Mr Middlemiss said. “But just because this process is labour intensive, that is no excuse to cut corners with compliance.”
“As a rental provider, you have to ask yourself; how do you know your agent isn’t going to get you in trouble? How do you know they are doing what they are supposed to?”
“As property managers, if we send an expert to check your property and they find a fault that could put your tenants at risk, any time between knowing that information and getting the issue fixed, you are potentially liable; agencies can get large fines, but landlords can also be found liable for issues.”
According to Mr Middlemiss, to mitigate risk, a rental provider should ask themselves the following question:
When was the last time I received a routine inspection report from my agent?
- Have I recently signed a Managing Authority that clarifies the tasks my agent performs?
- Did this include the Pre-Rental Disclosure form?
- Have I been asked to complete the bi-annual safety check?
If you have not been asked to complete these tasks, your agent may not be acting in your best interests.
In apartment living environments, common issues relating to minimum standards not being met include over-crowding, poor ventilation, mould, and essential services not working.
When asked if enough is being done from governing authorities, rental providers, agents, and tenants to ensure minimum standards were being met, Mr Middlemiss said “there is plenty more that can, and should be done”.
“Can we empower rental providers to challenge their agent and say, ‘have you got that rental report? Or where is that managing authority form?’ That is often enough of a catalyst to meet the required compliance,” he said.
“There are some things we cannot avoid, like poor design faults that cause things like mould, but there are some things you can do as a landlord to avoid it. Mould resistant paint helps, heat lamps help, these are just some things rental providers can do if they are educated by their agents.”
“Another challenge has been the shortage of A-grade gas plumbers and fitters to do the work, poor education from agents to rental providers in terms of minimum standards and a larger overseas or interstate investor market, it creates the perfect storm for meeting the compliance regulations.”
To learn more about the rental law changes in Victoria or to discuss the management of your property, speak to the team at Re-Define Real Estate today on 8658 5954 •
For more information, visit: re-define.com.au
Caption: From left to right: examples of mould and hoarding in city apartments.