Proposed changes to rent system welcomed

A Bendigo real estate agent has welcomed reform ideas he says would make renting fairer for both landlords and tenants.

The Victorian government wants feedback on proposed new laws for renting properties, something welcomed by PRD Nationwide Bendigo director Tom Isaac.

“There is certainly something beneficial in some of the suggested changes, especially those which protect the interests of both landlords and tenants,” he said.

“Then, on the other hand, there are some suggestions that go too far.”

Mr Isaacs was concerned some ideas – such as restricting rental increases to once a year, requiring notices to vacate be accompanied by supporting evidence or banning unreasonable “pet clauses” – would make it riskier for people to invest in rental properties.

“What we don’t want is for landlords to feel they are losing control of their asset,” he said.

That control was important to landlords who had invested a lot of money in their assets, Mr Isaacs said.

He warned investors would not put money into rental properties if they did not feel confident they could maintain or improve their property’s worth.

On the other hand, Mr Isaacs welcomed those suggestions he believed would make a fairer market for both landlords and tenants.

Those included minimum rental property health and safety standards.

Mr Isaacs was also supportive of moves requiring tenants to get a landlord’s consent before listing a property on Airbnb or similar sites.

He said the practice of subletting off-lease happened “quite consistently”, with landlords and estate agents only finding out during inspections or by coming across online advertisements.

Mr Isaacs was also supportive of banning rental bidding.

“This is where we really need to make sure people are not being priced out of the market, with tenants losing out because another person sitting along side them is able to outbid them for a property,” he said.

“We have seen situations in Bendigo where a property is going for $320 and someone has come along and offered a $40 increase.”

The Government is seeking feedback on a range of options including:

  • Facilitating fixed term leases of longer than five years
  • Restricting rental increases to once per year
  • Banning rental bids
  • Introducing minimum health and safety standards for rental properties
  • Improving incentives for landlords to make repairs quickly, such as restrictions on charging market rent
  • Introducing a mediation service with powers to make binding decisions
  • Requiring notices to vacate to be accompanied by supporting evidence
  • Requiring tenants to have landlord consent before listing a property on Airbnb or similar sites
  • Allowing tenants who are victims of family violence to challenge notices to vacate if given as a result of conduct by a perpetrator
  • Banning unreasonable ‘no pets’ clauses in tenancy agreements.

Submissions to the rental review close on 10 February, 2017. To make a submission visit: fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting

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