When it comes to renting, things are rarely positive. But, in some good news for renters — which may or may not make up for all the times your landlord has refused to fix your broken shower head — the Victorian Government has just passed a swathe of rental reforms. And they look like they could make renting a fairer playing field for Victorians.
After initially announcing the reforms back in October last year and putting them before parliament this month, Premier Daniel Andrews has now — in the lead-up to the November state election, no less — passed more than 100 reforms through both houses of parliament that will aim to increase renters' rights and protect tenants in vulnerable positions. According to the government, it is the most substantial change to the Residential Tenancies Act since it was introduced over 20 years ago.
The reforms will see updates to existing legislation to better reflect the current market and make it easier for people to enter into it — a problem that isn't just exclusive to first home buyers. Anyone who's recently had to fork out a small fortune to pay bond will be happy to know that, under the changes, bond amounts will be capped at four weeks' rent and landlords will be prevented from hiking up your rent more than once a year, too.
The Andrews Government's reforms would also give you more freedom to make a house into a home — you'll be able to make small modifications such as nailing hooks into the wall. Though minor, perhaps nothing says "this feels like home" than finally being able to hang up that festival poster you've been hanging onto since 2011. And it's now way harder for landlords to ban pets, too — they'll have to get an order from VCAT, so you'll be able to add a fur baby to your fam if you so wish.
And, on recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, tenants will be able to terminate rental agreements in a situation of domestic or family violence, with victims not being held liable for debts that aren't their own.