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All the good news you need to know about the new rental law changes

Yesterday the Victorian government announced several reforms to state rental laws, which aim to give tenants more stability and protect them from dodgy landlords. 

The changes have come in response to a review of the Residential Tenancies Act, which found that renters often struggle to find adequate housing for a reasonable price. 
 
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria has claimed that the new measures will drive up prices, which will ultimately harm renters.
 
It’s more important now than ever that tenants are treated fairly, as a quarter of Victorians rent their houses and property prices are at an all-time high. 
 
Here’s a full outline of what you can expect.
 
Everyone is allowed to have pets
 
All Victorian tenants will have the right to keep pets in their rented house. The owner of the property still needs to consent, but they can only decline in specific situations. So, if a landlord tries to refuse animals on their property, pet owners can take the dispute to VCAT to fight for their furry friends. Scrapping the ‘no pets’ clause was partly due to reports by the RSPCA, who stated that a massive 15 percent of the cats and dogs that end up there have been surrendered because their owners can’t keep them in a rented house. Hopefully, once the changes come into effect, we’ll see that concerning statistic go down. 
 
Smaller and more flexible bonds
 
For those renting places that cost more than $760 per week, landlords aren’t allowed to request bonds worth over a month’s rent. This change will affect the majority of rental households in Melbourne. Tenants will also be able to request a release from their bond without proof of permission from their landlord. The property owners will have two weeks to initiate a dispute, otherwise, the bond money is automatically returned to the tenant. 
 
More reliable leases
 
Under the changes, landlords will only be able to increase the rent price once a year. They’ll have to tell potential renters if they’re expecting to sell the place within the next year before the lease is signed. Restrictions will also be placed on ending a rental agreement without a reason, at the end of a lease when it has lasted longer than a fixed term. 
 
No more “no specified reason” notices
 
The previous laws had allowed landlords to evict tenants with 120 days’ notice for no obvious reason. The new ban on this means that tenants can enjoy more stability, and will be free to make minor changes to their houses, such as getting new blinds or hanging picture frames. 
 
Ban on rental bidding
 
Rental bidding is when potential tenants are forced to bid against each other on rental payments, driving up housing prices. There aren’t actually any laws preventing renters from contributing more money to secure the property they want, but real estate agents aren’t allowed to seek out anything higher than the advertised price. Rental bidding apps will also be banned. 
 
The Blacklist
 
A public list of shonky real estate agents and landlords, who have broken rental laws or had legal action against them, will be compiled.
 
A Commissioner for Residential Tenancies will also be selected, who’ll act as a watchdog on behalf of Victorian tenants.
 
While these reforms are promising, they don’t include a minimum standard for rental housing. Fingers crossed we’ll soon get to the point where all renters will be able to turn their oven on, safe in the knowledge that it works.
 
The new legislation is expected to come into effect next year. 

Head here if you're after any extra information on the rental law changes.