Chat with us, powered by LiveChatLegislation update: Changes affecting estate agents

Legislation update: Changes affecting estate agents

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (the Act) affecting estate agents and property managers are to come into force by 1 September 2011.

A new Part 10A in the Act and other legislative amendments will bring changes to the obligations of estate agents and property managers in relation to tenancy database checks, urgent repairs and rooming houses. It will include changes to the powers held by Consumer Affairs Victoria in the rooming house area.

A new Part 10A in the Act and other legislative amendments will bring changes to the obligations of estate agents and property managers in relation to tenancy database checks, urgent repairs and rooming houses. It will include changes to the powers held by Consumer Affairs Victoria in the rooming house area.

Part 10A of the Act will cover the use of tenancy database checks

If you use a residential tenancy database to check tenancy applicants’ history, you must inform the applicant about this in writing. You must provide contact details for the database manager to the applicant when they apply. Failure to meet this new obligation is an offence.

The circumstances in which you can list a tenant on a tenancy database is regulated. A listing can only be made about a person when they have been named as a tenant in a tenancy agreement and the tenancy agreement has ended; and they breached the agreement for certain specified reasons:

  • causing malicious damage to premises
  • endangering the safety of occupiers of neighbouring premises
  • non-payment of rent
  • failing to comply with a tribunal order
  • using the premises for an illegal purpose
  • assigning or sub-letting without the landlord’s consent, and
  • because of the breach, they either owe the landlord an amount more than the bond; or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has made a possession order.

Change to the maximum amount for urgent repairs: The maximum amount that a landlord or property owner will have to reimburse a tenant or resident who pays for urgent repairs is $1800, including GST. This maximum will also apply when a tenant or resident seeks a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal order for urgent repairs.

Higher penalties: Penalties will increase across the board for offences under the Act.

Greater rooming house powers for Consumer Affairs Victoria: Consumer Affairs Victoria inspectors can enter non-residential rooms in rooming houses to check compliance with the Act.

Expansion of powers of the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria in relation to rooming houses: The power of the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria has been expanded to allow the Director to initiate investigations and compliance actions in his or her own right on rooming house matters. The Director will have greater powers to gather evidence and will be able to take representative actions.

Notifying local councils about suspected rooming houses: Landlords and their agents must notify the relevant local council when they reasonably believe that their property, or a property they manage, is an unregistered rooming house.