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Rent

Last updated: 29 Mar 2021

Practice tip

There is no automatic right to representation at the Tribunal in the applications outlined on this page. Accordingly, leave will be required under s 62(1)(c) Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (Vic) for the applicant to be represented if the other party does not consent or is not represented by a professional advocate. See further Where do I go? What do I say?.

Renters

In relation to a residential rental agreement, rent is the amount paid by a renter to a residential rental provider to occupy the rented premises and use facilities and services: s 3 Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) (RTA).

Rent under a residential rental agreement accrues from day to day and is recoverable or refundable on that basis: s 39 RTA.

Records and receipts

A person who receives payment of rent from a renter must give a written receipt immediately (if paid in person), or if not made in person, within five business days where a receipt is requested: s 43 RTA. If the residential rental provider does not give the renter a receipt, the residential rental provider must keep a record of the payment for 12 months from the date of payment: s 43(2) RTA. The residential rental provider must provide a copy of the record on request: s 43(2)(b), (2A).

The record or receipt must detail:

  • The name of the renter and the rented premises;
  • The date of receipt;
  • The period for which payment is made;
  • The amount paid; and
  • The fact that the payment is for rent.

How is rent to be paid?

Rent is payable at any place and in any manner specified in the residential rental agreement: s 42 RTA.

The residential rental provider must ensure that a rent payment method that incurs no additional costs (other than bank or account fees payable on the renter’s bank account) is reasonably available to the renter. A maximum penalty of 60 penalty units applies for non-compliance: s 42(4) RTA. The residential rental provider must also give the renter information about any costs associated with a particular payment method before the renter consents to use the payment method: s 42(7) RTA.

All residential rental providers but the Director of Housing (DOH) must allow renters to pay by Centrepay and electronic funds transfer: ss 42(5), (5A) RTA.

Can a residential rental provider charge rent in advance?

If weekly rent is less than $900 per week, the residential rental provider cannot demand rent is paid more than one month in advance: s 40 RTA. If rent is payable on a weekly or shorter basis, the residential rental provider cannot require payment of rent more than two weeks in advance: s 41 RTA.

Rent owing

A person (whether a residential rental provider) must not take or dispose of a renter’s goods on account of rent owing by the renter: s 49 RTA.

When and how can rent be increased?

If a renter is on a periodic lease, the residential rental providers may only increase rent once every 12 months: s 44(4A) RTA.

Rent cannot be increased during a fixed term lease unless the lease allows for a rent increase of a specified amount of prescribes a method by which a rent increase is to be calculated: s 44(4) RTA. Again a rent increase can only happen once in a 12 month period.

The provider must give the renter at least 60 days’ notice in the prescribed form of a proposed rent increase: s 44(1) RTA. Rent increases that breach these requirements are invalid: s 44(5) RTA.

Changes in rental rebates in public housing does not constitute a change in rent for the purposes of s 44 RTA: s 44(4B) RTA.

What can renters do about rent increases?

If the renter considers that a rent increase is excessive or that rent is now excessive due to a withdrawal of services, facilities or other items provided with the rented premises, the  renter may apply to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria (Director) investigate and report: s 45(1) RTA. The application must be made within 30 days after the notice of rent increase is given if in respect of a rent increase: s 45(2) RTA.

As soon as practicable after receiving an application, the Director must carry out an investigation and prepare a report, which is provided to both the renter and the residential rental provider. Under s 47(3) RTA, the report must have regard to:

  • The rent payable for comparable rental premises in the same locality;
  • The state of repair and general condition of the rented premises;
  • The costs of goods and services and facilities provided with the rented premises;
  • Any charges in respect of the rented premises for which the residential rental provider is liable;
  • The costs of goods and services and facilities provided by the renter;
  • Any charges payable by the renter under any Act or the residential rental agreement;
  • Any work which the renter has done or agreed to do to the premises with the residential rental provider’s consent;
  • Any changes in the rent and the condition of the rented premises since the commencement of the residential rental agreement and since the last rent increase;
  • The number of rent increases in the preceding 24 months, and the amount of each rent increase in that period and the timing of those increases; and
  • Any valuation of the rented premises.

After receiving a report from the Director, the renter may apply to the Tribunal for an order declaring that the rent or proposed rent is excessive: s 46(1) RTA. The application must be made within 30 days of receiving the Director’s report: s 46(2) RTA.

Alternatively, with leave of the Tribunal, the renter may apply directly to the Tribunal for an order declaring the rent increase to be excessive, without having first received a report from the Director: s 46(3) RTA. The Tribunal may grant leave if it is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the renter not having requested the Director to investigate and report: s 46(5) RTA. This application can only be made after 30 days have passed since the notice of rent increase was given: s 46(4) RTA.

The Tribunal may make an order that the rent is excessive, and direct that the rent must not exceed a specified amount for a given period: s 47 RTA.

The Tribunal must make an order declaring that the rent or proposed rent is excessive if it is satisfied that the rent is more than that which should reasonably be paid by a renter, having regard to the same factors that the Director is obliged to consider above.

The Tribunal must have also have regard to the Director’s report (if any): s 47(2) RTA.

Refund of excessive rent

Where the Tribunal makes an order in relation to excessive rent, the Tribunal may also make an order requiring the residential rental provider to refund the excessive rent paid since the renter first made the application to the Director or to the Tribunal as the case may be. This amount refundable is the difference between the rent paid during that period and the day on which the order is made, and the maximum amount that would have been payable for that period if the order had been made on the day on which the application to the Tribunal was made: s 48 RTA.

Residents in rooming houses

In relation to rooming houses, rent is the amount paid by a resident to a rooming house operator to occupy a room and use facilities and services: s 3 RTA.

The rules for rooming houses with respect to:

  • methods of payment of rent; and
  • receipt and record requirements;

are the same or equivalent rules as apply to residential rental agreements: ss 99A, 100 RTA.

Rooming house operators must not require a resident to pay rent more than 14 days in advance: s 99 RTA.

Rooming house operators may only increase the rent once every 12 months: s 101(5A) RTA. Rooming house operators must give at least 60 days’ notice of a proposed rent increase: s 101(1) RTA.

Where the rooming house operator provides additional services to the resident at their request, the rooming house operator may increase the rent by an agreed amount without requiring notice of a rent increase: s 101(3) RTA. Any such agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties, and specify the service to be provided, rent increase amount and effective date: s 101(4) RTA. Rooming house operators must also reduce the rent if the rooming house provider ceases to provide services: s 106 RTA.

Similarly to residential rental agreements, a rooming house resident can apply to the Director and/or the Tribunal to complain about excessive rent: ss 102, 103, 104. Unlike for residential rental agreements, the Director can investigate excessive rent in a rooming house regardless of whether the resident applies to the Director: s 102A RTA. Specific rooming house rules apply however regarding payment of rent pending the decision of the Tribunal and refunds: s 105 RTA.

Caravan park residents

In relation to caravan parks, rent is the amount paid by a resident to a caravan park owner to occupy a site and use facilities and services: s 3 RTA. 

The rules for caravan parks with respect to:

  • methods of payment of rent (s 150A);
  • receipt and record requirements (s 151 RTA);
  • complaints to the Director/Tribunal with respect to excessive rent (ss 153, 154, 155);

are the same or equivalent to the rules which apply to residential rental agreements.

Again, specific caravan park rules apply regarding payment of rent pending the decision of the Tribunal and refunds in excessive rent applications: s 156 RTA. 

Caravan park owners must not require a resident to pay rent more than 14 days in advance, or hiring charges more than 28 days in advance: s 150 RTA. 

 

Caravan park owners must give residents at least 60 days’ notice of an increase to rent or hiring charges: s 152 RTA. Rent and hiring charge increases can only occur every 12 months: ss 152(5A), (5B) RTA.

Part 4A site tenants

In relation to Part 4A site parks, rent is the amount paid by a site tenant to a site owner to occupy a Part 4A site and use facilities and services: s 3 RTA. 

The rules for Part 4A site tenants with respect to:

  • methods of payment of rent (s 206TA);
  • receipt and record requirements (s 206U RTA);
  • complaints to the Director/Tribunal with respect to excessive rent (ss 206W, 206X, 206Y);

are the same or equivalent to the rules which apply to residential rental agreements.

Again, specific site tenant rules apply regarding payment of rent pending the decision of the Tribunal and refunds in excessive rent applications: s 206Z RTA. 

Site owners must not require a site tenant to pay rent more than a month in advance: s 206T RTA.

 

Site agreements can provide that rent will increase under a site agreement by a fixed or non-fixed amount: s 206SA(1) RTA. Site owners must give site tenants at least 60 days’ notice of an increase to rent, unless it is a fixed rent increase under s 206SA(1)(a): s 206V(1) RTA. Rent increases can only occur every 12 months: s 206SA(2) RTA.

 

Site owners must also reduce the rent if the they cease to provide services: s 206ZB RTA. 

SDA enrolled dwellings

In relation to SDA enrolled dwellings, rent is the amount paid by a SDA provider to a SDA provider to occupy an SDA enrolled dwelling and use facilities and services: s 498B.

The rules for residents of SDA enrolled dwellings with respect to:

are the same or equivalent to the rules which apply to residential rental agreements.

Again, specific SDA resident rules apply regarding payment of rent pending the decision of the Tribunal, refunds and permissible rent increases in excessive rent applications: ss 498ZJ, 498ZK. 

SDA providers must not require a resident to pay rent more than 30 days in advance: s 498ZC RTA. 

 

SDA providers must give the SDA resident and the SDA resident’s guardian or administrator (if any) at least 60 days’ notice of an increase to rent: s 498ZB(1) RTA. Rent increases can only occur every 6 months: s 498ZB(2).

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