The review of the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act has been underway for 12 months now, with a final options paper expected in coming months.
The reforms are currently being debated, and the final proposals will be put to the Victorian Parliament next year.
The Real Estate Institute of Victoria is currently focusing on two key areas.
1. Access to tenanted properties for sale and leasing-related purposes
The REIV believes the RTA must clarify tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities in regards to access to properties that are being relet or sold.
Under existing legislation, grounds for entry to a property are currently very limited. The timeframe for access currently stands at a minimum of 24 hours’ notice and a maximum of seven days’ notice.
The REIV supports an initial seven days’ notice period of a landlord’s intention to access the property for selling or reletting purposes.
Once the seven days notice has been given, only 24 hours’ notice should be required for each subsequent open for inspection (OFI).
REIV CEO Geoff White said any attempt by the government to extend the waiting period for access to property when selling or reletting would have a significant impact on landlords, and the wider property sector.
“This will create a further restriction to an already limited sales period - and potential hardship to landlords,” he said.
“It will create a significant impact on landlords if their intention to sell is due to loss of employment, financial hardship, for family reasons, or to obtain or retain a job, as it often is,” said White.
The REIV believes that during sales and leasing processes the Act needs to allow for access of more than one person at a time, for at least half an hour, and up to twice a week, for up to six weeks.
White said any plans to limit access during the sale or reletting of a property could also have a major impact on property supply and in turn rental property prices.
“It is essential to have reasonable access at reasonable times to a property as determined by the landlord in consultation with the tenant,” said White.
“If access is required more than twice a week, then it is fair that the tenant is compensated,” said White.
White said valuables in a property during an inspection should be the responsibility of the tenant. Tenants should conceal or remove precious items so they are not damaged or stolen.
2. Photographing properties for advertising purposes
In 2014-15, the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) conducted a review of photographing and filming tenants’ possessions for advertising purposes.
The review involved significant consultation with multiple stakeholder groups, including the REIV and the Tenants Union of Victoria.
The VLRC released a 70-page report on the subject in March 2015.
The VLRC report ‘Photographing and Filming Tenants’ Possessions for Advertising Purposes’ recommended landlords be allowed to enter rental properties to take advertising images, provided they give the tenant seven days’ notice and make a reasonable attempt to arrange a time that is suitable for both parties.
The VLRC recommendations also allow a tenant to object in writing to advertising images being taken in cases where a tenant’s possessions would directly identify the tenant or reveal sensitive information about them.
The REIV supports the VLRC’s recommendations, which can be viewed here.
White said a further government review of these regulations is unnecessary, considering the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s report on the subject was delivered only last year.
“Both the REIV and TUV provided significant input into the report, which reasonably states that a landlord must give at least seven days’ notice to enter a property to take advertising images and make a fair attempt to arrange a suitable time for entry if the tenant wishes to be present,” he said.
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