What's the difference between my landlord and my agent?

By Anika Legal | Tue 4th July '23

As a renter, your agent is usually the person you deal with on a day to day basis to discuss your tenancy. However, when things go wrong, it is actually your landlord that your dispute is with.

We know this can be really confusing - some of our clients don’t even know who their landlord is.

We wrote this blog to help you understand the difference between your landlord and your agent - and if you don’t know who your landlord is, we’ve included some tips below to help you find out.

What does my landlord do, and how do I find out who they are?

Your landlord is the person or company that you are renting from in your rental agreement. A few things to note about your landlord:

  • In Victorian law, a landlord is now called a “Rental Provider” - so you might see both terms used in correspondence and documents.
  • Your landlord may not necessarily be a person - it could also be a company. That company would still owe you duties as a rental provider though
  • As the party renting your property to you, your landlord is the one who owes you duties under the rental agreement, and who you owe duties to.

If you don’t know who your landlord is, you should check your rental agreement.

What does an agent do?

The agent, also called a 'real estate agent' or 'property manager', is a person or company who the landlord pays to manage the property. Their responsibilities may include advertising the property, collecting rent, managing repairs and maintenance of the property, and managing issues with renters (for example, going to VCAT on behalf of the landlord).

A few things to note about your agent:

  • It’s always important to maintain a friendly working relationship with your agent if possible, but always remember that it is your landlord that the agent is representing. They do not owe a contractual duty towards you, the renter.
  • To the extent that the agent owes a duty towards you as a renter, it is only within the course of them working with you on behalf of the landlord. It is the landlord that has a contractual relationship with you.
  • It is the agency that your landlord engages to be their agent - so the actual person liaising with you may change from time to time, but it’s still the same agency that’s servicing the landlord as ‘the agent’.

A landlord will usually give the agent permission to do certain things without contacting them. For example, a landlord might give permission for the agent to arrange for urgent repairs up to a certain amount.

If your rental property is being managed by an agent, then you should contact the agent if you have any issues with or questions about the property at first instance. However, in rare cases, even where there is an agent managing the property, you may need to contact your landlord directly. For example, if the agent is not responding to you, you may need to contact your landlord.

We last updated this page in July 2023. 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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