Tenants, get control of your rights!

by Chris Lang on November 16, 2008

House For Rent Sign
You’ve heard me – tenants have rights too. There may not be enough rentals on the market and 50 people compete on every single house that is advertised, but that is not an excuse to let the landlords and the agents push you into the corner. Here is what you are entitled to (in Victoria):

They can’t reject you because of your kids

It is against the law to discriminate against tenants with kids. The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • when if the property is unsafe for your little ones
  • when the property is owned by government and is intended for childless people or
  • when the property is place of residence of the landlord, who is temporarily renting it but will be returning

The bond

The bond can’t be higher than 1 month’s rent. If the landlord or the agent wants to get a higher bond, they have to go to VCAT (Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal) and get approval.

The only exceptions to this rule are

  • when weekly rent is higher than $350 and
  • when the house is landlord’s place of residence and the tenant will only live there until the landlord moves back in. There should be a clause in your tenancy agreement saying so.

In those two cases the bond is unlimited.

Another important thing to know is that the amount of the bond is only set once and can not be increased while you are renting.

What if they do demand a higher bond without any bases? You can complain to VCAT and they will be fined $500.

The rent

Rent is paid in advance, so the first question that rises – how much in advance?
If you pay on weekly bases – nobody can demand more than 2 weeks of rent in advance.
If you are not paying weekly and a week’s rent is less than $350 – only pay in advance for one month of rent.

If rent wasn’t paid on time

Even if you forgot to pay the rent and paid the next day or even next week – they can not throw you out. Only after 14 days of not paying the rent, agent/landlord has the right to give a tenant notice to vacate.

Ways of paying the rent

No matter how you pay, via direct debit, rent payment card or otherwise, they can not charge you for issuing a rent card or creating a direct debit agreement.

What if they do? Complain and they will get a $1000 fine.

Rent increase

If you have a fixed agreement – they simply can not increase rent. When you’re on periodic agreement, they can’t increase your rental payments unless there is a clause about it in your agreement. That clause should also say how much they can increase the rent.

You are completely safe in the first 6 months of tenancy and they can’t increase more than twice a year, 6 month between the increases. By law you must be notified 60 days before the increase in a written form.

Inspections

Neither the landlord nor the agent can come and inspect your rental during the first three months. After tat they can come once every 6 months and must give you at least 24 hours written notice. Also they can’t barge in on you any time – only between 8am and 6pm and never on public holidays.

Leaving your rental property

To leave a rental (in the middle or in the end of contract) all you have to do is to send a written notice to the agent by registered mail 28 days (at least) before the day you move.

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