Rental Rights, Repairs and Refunds

By Anika Legal | Tue 28th June '22

On 18 May 2022, Anika Legal delivered a webinar on Rental Rights, Repairs, and Refunds during Victorian Law Week, in partnership with the College of Law.

The interactive webinar covered a renter's journey through a tenancy, from asserting their rights about the condition of their new home when they enter, to getting their bond back when they leave.

You can watch the webinar by clicking on this link.

Webinar
Q&A From Our Webinar

Entering the tenancy

Does a rental provider have to provide a digital copy of the signed rental agreement when requested?

Rental Providers must give renters a copy of the rental agreement if it’s in writing - but there are no rules that say it must be given in a digital form.

When I complete the conditions report, should I be checking the rental property thoroughly for damage?

Yes - once completed, your conditions report will serve as evidence of the state of your property when you moved in. To protect your rights, it’s best to be as detailed as possible!

Examine every room, floor, wall, furnishing and appliance for damage such as stains, marks, chips, dents and ensure they are in working order. Having evidence of any damage will help if there are any disputes with your landlord or their agent relating to repairs needed or your bond later.

Can the condition report be provided after I move into the property?

In an ideal (and the usual) situation, your agent/rental provider should have given you a conditions report before the date you move in. Failure to do so attracts a civil penalty. However, in most cases, it’s probably not worth your time making a big deal about slight delays if ultimately you did get a conditions report around the time you moved into the property.

If you are simply not given a conditions report at all, you should definitely still go ahead and complete your own conditions report and give it to the rental provider/agent within 5 business days of moving in. There is a template Conditions Report you can use from Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website, which you can access by clicking here.

What happens if the condition report doesn’t reflect the actual condition of the property?

When you receive the rental provider/agent’s condition report, you should go through and make your own comments to ensure it reflects the actual condition of the property before signing it and giving it back. If you do this, and the rental provider/agent hasn’t objected within 30 days, then that conditions report is considered evidence of the state of the repair at the property at the time you moved in.

Can I request to be present when the exit condition report is completed by the agent?

Yes - Victorian rental law says that the renter should be present or be given a reasonable opportunity to do so when the exit conditions report is completed.

Even if you can’t make it, you should follow up with the agent and ask them to make you aware of any concerns as soon as they conduct the exit conditions inspections so that you are given an opportunity to rectify any issues (if reasonable).

If you are not going to be present at the exit inspection, It’s also a good idea for you to take your own time stamped photos and videos of the property when you are leaving it for the last time - just in case!

When repairs are needed

Is my landlord allowed to inspect the property for repairs? What if the rental provider wants to do repairs and they aren’t qualified?

Rental providers have a right to enter the property for a general inspection to ensure it is in good condition and to enter a property for repairs but they must give proper notice. For example, if the reason for entry is repairs, they would need to give a minimum of 24 hours’ notice to enter at a reasonable time.

Victoria’s rental laws also highlight that repairs must be undertaken by a suitably qualified person. As such, if a landlord is making specialised repairs that require a license or registration, they must get someone who is suitably qualified to do so. All repairs made must be to the standard a tradesperson would make them.

What if during the repairs I can’t use facilities at my rental property?

It is reasonable to request that the rental provider consider reducing or waiving your rent if you are not able to enjoy possession of your rental property because repairs are needed. However, your rental provider may refuse. If you are not able to come to a suitable agreement, you may have to take the matter to VCAT - you should definitely get some legal advice before you take any actions though!

There is more information about temporary accommodation during repairs on Consumer Affairs Victoria’s website, which you can access by clicking here

How can a formal notice of breach be issued?

Notices of breach can be given in person, sent via post or sent electronically. Notices can only be served electronically, such as via email, if agreed to in the rental agreement.

Other questions

What should I do if I am still receiving notifications from the RTBA for a property I am no longer living in?

If your tenancy has already ended and your bond has been processed, you should no longer be receiving notifications from RTBA in relation to that property. If you are, you should contact the RTBA to see if there’s an administrative error.

If you have left your tenancy by having another renter take over your lease, and you are still receiving notification from the RTBA in relation to that property, then your name may still be attached to the bond lodgement. If you have already received the bond money from the new renter, then you should contact the agent or rental provider of the property and ask them to process a renter transfer with the RTBA. There’s more information about that here

However, if you haven’t yet received your share of the bond from the incoming renter, you should not approve your name to be taken off the bond lodgement.

I was not successful at VCAT. What are my options now?

Your options will depend on the reasons you were not successful at VCAT.

If you received an order that is not in your favour because you didn’t go to the hearing, you can ask VCAT to reopen the matter if you have a reasonable excuse for not being there and a reasonable case to argue. You need to do so within 14 days of being aware of the order. Whether VCAT agrees to reopen the order is ultimately at their discretion - just because you request reopening the order doesn’t mean that they will definitely reopen it. There’s more information about this on VCAT’s website, which you can access by clicking here: Reviews and rehearings | VCAT.

VCAT orders are binding - even if you disagree with it. You can only appeal VCAT orders if you think they applied the law in the wrong way - this involves technical analysis of the way in which the decision was made, and you should definitely get legal advice before taking any action to appeal the order. Appeals go to more senior courts, where procedures are more complex and there is a risk of costs. This means that if you are not successful, you will be asked to pay for the other side’s legal costs. There’s more information about this on VCAT’s website, which you can access by clicking here

What can I do if an agent clearly only feeds selected information to rental providers?

Agents' duties are owed to their client, the rental provider, as per the contract between them. If they are not giving passing on important information about the tenancy to the rental provider, they may in breach of their duty. This is a matter between the agent and the rental provider.

As the renter, all you can do is make sure you’re fulfilling your part of the rental agreement, and keeping a paper trail of any requests you have made to the agent in relation to issues that you think the rental provider should be getting on top of.

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We last updated this page in July 2022. Please remember that this is only legal information. If you're thinking about taking action, you should chat to a lawyer for advice about your situation first.

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