Finding balance in Bendigo's rental market as state government backs tenant's rights

THE proposed removal of the 120-day notice to vacate could restrict the options for landlords looking to evict unruly tenants, a Bendigo real estate agent believes.

But a community housing organisation in Bendigo has welcomed the state government’s proposed changes to the rental industry, believing it brings balance between tenants and landlords.

The Andrews government announced a range of changes to the rental industry on the weekend, including giving tenants the right to own pets, restricting rent increases to once per year, making it easier for tenants to make minor modifications to properties and releasing bond within two weeks.

Bendigo Property Management’s Hunter Gill said the changes did not go as far as many real estate agents feared, but the removal of the ‘no-specified reason’ notice could cause issues.

“You can have issues with tenants that are hard to define, such as poor living habits, that can be more devastating than a destructive tenant,” he said.

“That’s where these notices could be used.

“Overall, these changes are just slight adjustments that add a little extra pressure on agents to do things to properties in a faster time.”

Mr Gill said landlords needed to have adequate landlord insurance to protect against unexpected property costs.

The changes are expected to go before parliament early next year.

Housing Justice manager Kirsty Waller said giving tenants their bond within two weeks and removing the ‘no-specified reason’ notice would address rental stress in Bendigo.

“What we’ve noticed with rentals is that there is a degree of rental oppression, where tenants are too scared to say anything about their properties,” she said.

“Tenants have to attend to issues within 10 days, but a lot of the time you will see landlords drag out the process.”

Ms Waller said minimum standards for rental properties should have been included.

“We see a lot of poorly maintained properties, particularly out of town,” she said.

Renting has become increasingly common in Bendigo in the last 16 years.

In 2001, 23.3 per cent of people in Bendigo rented. That number increased to 28 per cent in 2016.

At the same time, the number of people who own their home outright in Bendigo has decreased from 42 per cent to 33.1 per cent.

Over the last 10 years the average weekly rent in Bendigo has increased $90, from $160 to $250.