As a relocation agent in Melbourne, I have experienced firsthand the challenges of helping clients with pets to find a rental property. Our relocation statistics tell us that it takes longer and that clients will need to apply for more rental properties before they are successful, when they are renting with a pet. Interestingly, the RSPCA said that over the past two years, 15 per cent of the dogs and cats turned into them were surrendered because the owners were moving and could not take their pets. So the new rental laws in Victoria are a welcomed change for many renters as they are aimed at making it easier to rent in Victoria. Plus, hopefully we will see less homeless pets as well.
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 was passed in September 2018 and includes more than 130 reforms that aim to increase protections for renters, while ensuring landlords can still effectively manage their rental properties.
Consumer Affairs Victoria will oversee implementation of the new rental laws in Victoria. The rental changes will come into effect progressively, and further consultation will be undertaken where necessary to develop guidelines about the new laws. It is expected that they will roll out around July 2020.
Some of the new rental laws in Victoria include:
- Allowing animals to be kept in rented premises. Currently, a landlord can automatically include a “no pets clause” in a rental agreement, but under the reforms tenants will be allowed to have pets on the provision the renter obtains a landlord’s written consent – landlords won’t be able to unreasonably refuse the request. Tenants will be responsible for any cleaning or fumigation related to property damage by a pet that goes beyond general wear and tear.
- Allowing renters to make minor modifications to a rental property
- Bolstering security of tenure and ending ‘no fault’ evictions by removing the ‘no specified reason’ notice to vacate and restricting the use of ‘end of the fixed-term’ notices to vacate to the end of an initial fixed term agreement
- Landlords will only be able to increase rent every 12 months; they can currently increase it every six months.
- Providing for the early release of bonds with the consent of both parties to the tenancy agreement
- Providing for faster reimbursement where renters have paid for urgent repairs
- For Victorians planning on signing a lease where the rent is $760 per week or less, landlords will not be able to ask for bonds worth more than one month’s rent. Previously the cap was from $450 per week.
- Enabling automatic bond repayments, which will be available to a renter within 14 days where the parties are not in dispute over the apportionment of the bond.
However, it is going to be interesting to see how landlords manage these changes especially with the pet changes. Having worked in the industry for over 13 years I know that owners have a very strong viewpoint on pets either way. They will either happily accept pets or they won’t. Feedback from owners is that they have had a bad experience in the past and that is why they don’t want pets again. Interestingly, the Real-estate Institute of Victoria lobbied extensively on these changes as they felt that they were too harsh for landlords. They strongly indicated that landlords may not look at rental properties as such a good investment anymore because of the impact these changes will have for owners. So, will landlords start to look at other investment opportunities rather than property? And will that effect the number of rental properties available? Only time will tell.
In the past we could speak with a real-estate agent and find out if the owner would accept a pet or not. This was good because it meant our clients didn’t have to waste time looking at properties when we knew the likely hood of their rental application being accepted was slim. Now, real-estate agents cannot comment on this. Landlords don’t have to provide an explanation as to why a rental application has not been accepted. So I just wonder if these new changes surrounding pets will actually achieve the desired outcome. Will people just spend more time looking at properties and applying for more rental properties?
Now, more than ever before it will be important that you have a great rental application. Having someone on your side helping you navigate through this process and managing your rental application process will become even more important than before. We have a 6 step process that we go through as part of the application process when helping clients with pets secure a rental property. For more tips on renting with pets click here.
Australian Relocation Managers help find, shortlist, inspect, secure and sign up rental properties in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. For rental property sourcing and relocation assistance call: 03 9018 9855.
For more information regarding the new rental laws in Victoria visit: https://engage.vic.gov.au/fairersaferhousing