All estate agents and property managers should be aware of the new rules regarding residential tenancies which are effective for six months from 29 March 2020.
The new laws:
– create a moratorium on evictions
– facilitate rent relief for eligible tenants
– suspend rental increases
– establish a new dispute resolution process.
The laws also make changes to how a tenant or landlord may end a tenancy during the six-month moratorium period.
The temporary laws provide two key changes to support tenants experiencing hardship as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). They allow tenants and landlords to reach agreement to reduce the rent payable, and support the continuation of tenancies by a ban on evictions without an order from VCAT.
Detailed information about the changes.
Role of Consumer Affairs Victoria Consumer Affairs Victoria provides a front-door dispute resolution service for all residential tenancy matters, including those where a party would previously have gone directly to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The new dispute resolution service was formalised under new regulations made on 12 May, which sees Consumer Affairs Victoria acting as the entry point for all renting issues.
The dispute service assesses matters such as:
– disputes about rental agreements
– alleged breaches of obligations under a rental agreement
– alleged breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act or the
regulations made under it.
Role of estate agents and property managers
Since the changes were announced, Consumer Affairs Victoria
has been pleased to hear many reports of landlords, supported
by their agent or property manager, working with their tenant to
reach agreement to reduce rent or other changes which will
sustain the tenancy. Over 12,000 reduced rent agreements
have been lodged with us over the past five weeks, without the
need to engage our dispute resolution service.
Agents and property managers play a key role in facilitating
agreement between the landlord and tenant, and are
encouraged to take a collaborative approach to doing so.
The relationships created by the lease will likely continue beyond the eviction moratorium period, so it is in all parties interest to continue in good faith under the rights and obligations of the tenancy.
Some key principles that will assist any negotiations on rent negotiations or other residential tenancy matters:
– Try to reach an agreement to reduce the rent, rather than the tenant deferring payment. The intention is not to leave the tenant with a debt they cannot repay at the end of the moratorium.
– The tenant’s circumstances may be relevant to their eligibility for a rent relief grant, but this should not be a condition of a rent reduction agreement.
– Either the tenant or landlord circumstances may change over coming months, which might be reflected in the inclusion of a review date or a trigger in the reduced rent agreement.
– It is not appropriate to seek detailed financial information about assets from a tenant to assess a rent reduction request. You are reminded that directing a tenant to access superannuation is not permitted.
– Changes to termination of a lease mean that, if referred by Consumer Affairs Victoria, VCAT will consider whether it is reasonable and proportionate to end the tenancy.
– Obligations regarding urgent and other repairs are unchanged, and should be actioned in a timely way.
Further information and resources.
With over 50 Remote Inspections completed already for the month of May we have received great feedback from Landlords.
We will be continuing this for the month of June & re-evaluate from there.
We would love to hear your feedback!