Do you need help with tenancy issues?
We assist renters who are experiencing issues with their tenancy and maintaining safe and secure housing. Tenancy issues are often impacted by other problems people are dealing with in their lives, including separation, debt, financial stress, family violence and mental health. We can provide timely information and legal advice in relation to tenancy issues and help renters find solutions to stay in their private rental properties or social housing.
GCLS can help
GCLS can help people:
- Experiencing financial difficulties and struggling to pay rent
- At risk of eviction or who want to challenge a notice to vacate
- Having a dispute with their property manager or rental provider about repairs and maintenance of rental properties
- Negotiating and dealing with a government or community housing agency about their tenancy
- Seeking compensation from rental providers who breach their duties under the rental agreement
- Applying to and attending VCAT for their tenancy issues
Do you know your rights under the new rental laws?
The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 changed from 29 March 2021. The changes set out clearly the rights and responsibilities of renters and rental providers from before you sign a rental agreement until after the agreement ends. The changes apply to all types of tenancies including private rentals, caravan and residential parks and rooming houses.
Some of the law changes include:
- A ban on rental bidding
- A maximum bond amount and rent in advance that rental providers can set
- New rental minimum standards
- What rental providers must tell renters before they sign a rental agreement
- Allowable modifications and urgent repairs that can be done by renters.
- Gas and electrical safety checks to be completed by rental providers
- Keeping pets in rental properties
- No eviction without a reason
- The Reasonable and Proportionate Test VCAT uses for determining eviction possession orders
- Claiming of the bond after a tenancy ends
Duties of Renters and Rental Providers
Your duties as a renter
A renter also has duties under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 which include:
- Not causing a nuisance or interference with the peace, comfort or privacy of neighbours
- Not damaging the property or common areas
- Keeping the property in a reasonably clean condition
- Allowing entry to the property if proper notice has been given.
- Not making modifications that need consent without first getting that consent
- Returning the property to its original condition on moving out, unless it has been agreed this does not need to be done
Notice of breach of duty
You can be given a notice of breach of duty by it being handed to you in person, sent by post, or by email (but only if you have agreed to receive notices this way).
A notice of breach of duty will tell you to fix the property and how long you have to do this or not to commit the same or similar breach again and/or to pay compensation for any loss suffered by the rental provider from your breach.
If the rental provider believes that you have not fixed the breach, and/or have not paid the compensation they asked for, within the required timeframe, they can give you further a notice of breach and/or they can apply to VCAT for an order that you must fix the breach and/or pay compensation.
When the “quiet enjoyment” of your home is disturbed
By law, the rental provider has a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that you have quiet enjoyment of your home. You may be able to claim compensation if the rental provider or property agent breaches this duty. Some examples of breaches of the rental provider’s duty include:
- The rental provider, their property agent or someone turning up at your home without giving you proper notice or entering your home without proper notice.
- You cannot fully enjoy your home because of repair issues the rental provider has not fixed, or your home wasn’t reasonably clean or vacant on the day you were to move in.
You need to keep evidence about the breaches, your loss and your costs to make a claim for compensation.
Cam (not his real name) is a 40 year old Gippsland resident who lives by himself in a rental property. Cam is unemployed and has poor mental health.
Cam contacted GCLS because the property was in poor condition. Many areas of the property were in a state of disrepair. Cam had asked for repairs to be done more than a year earlier, but they had not been completed. Cam had also been charged an excessive amount of money for garden maintenance – more than $100 greater than the amount Cam had authorised them to spend.
GCLS wrote to Cam’s property manager and explained their legal obligation to provide repairs within a certain amount of time. GCLS also asked for Cam to be reimbursed $100 for the garden maintenance.
The requested repairs have now been completed, and Cam was reimbursed $100. Cam is now living in a home of suitable standard.
If you are unable to access our telephone advice service, please fill out our online ‘Request an Appointment’ form and we can organise a face-to-face appointment.