Adjournment: Rent controls
My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, and the action I seek is for the minister to protect renters with controls on rents, improved standards and more secure leases. Around 60 per cent of people in Prahran are renters, and renters need a fair go. Renters in Prahran are telling me that rents are going up too high, that their homes are in poor condition and that landlords are not fixing faults. There is poor heating, poor cooling and poor ventilation. We are in a housing crisis. Rents are rising four times faster than wages. Victoria urgently needs caps on excessive rent increases, higher standards for energy efficiency, heating and cooling for rental dwellings and more secure leases, with real options for long-term tenancy. Our housing system must be about people, and it needs to put people first. Just like we have public health care and public education, it is the government’s job to ensure that everyone has a safe, affordable, secure place to call home.
The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring a fairer, safer rental market.
On 29 March 2021, over 130 reforms to the rental sector commenced in Victoria. The reforms, which span all types of rental housing regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the RTA), provide greater protections for renters and support the management of residential tenancies.
While the RTA does not regulate the amount of rent that can be charged, the reforms made significant changes to rental laws to address the cost of maintaining a tenancy, including:
□ limiting rent increases to no more than once per year for all housing types
□ for fixed-term residential rental agreements, requiring that the amount or method of calculation for an increase is set out in the rental agreement (for example, no more than X per cent in a 12-month period)
Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) is Victoria’s rental market regulator under the Residential Tenancies Act, with specific powers relating to assessments of excessive rent increases. Renters can seek an excessive rent review from the Director Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) after 30 days of receiving a notice of rent increase from a rental provider. On the receipt of an application, the Director, CAV, will carry out an investigation and provide the renter and the residential rental provider with a written report.
After receiving a report from the Director, CAV, a renter also has the option to apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for an order declaring the rent or proposed rent excessive and directing the amount of rent to be paid for the duration of the order.
In addition to these rent price protections, the RTA reforms also improve security of tenure by requiring:
□ rental providers to give a valid reason for ending a rental agreement
□ rental providers to attach documentary evidence specified by the Director CAV to notices to vacate, for example a building permit
□ VCAT to consider the reasonableness and proportionality before issuing possession orders, and
□ a ‘five strikes’ rule to give renters more opportunities to remedy rent arrears in a 12-month period.
The new rental laws also introduced a range of protections for renters including the introduction of rental minimum standards. The rental minimum standards, which apply to all rental agreements entered into after 29 March 2021, require rental properties to have a minimum 2-star energy efficient fixed heater in the main living area.
The Victorian Government will continue to assess and monitor the adequacy of the minimum standards to ensure they are meeting the needs of renters.
The Hon Melissa Horne MP
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation