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Minimum standards for rental properties

Information about the minimum standards that rental providers must provide.

From 29 March 2021 a rental provider must ensure that a rental property complies with minimum standards of amenity, safety and comfort for a renter. These minimum standards apply to new rental agreements signed after this date. They do not apply to other types of rental situations under the Act. Specific minimum standards apply to rooming houses.

See Minimum standards for rooming houses.

A rental provider must ensure that rental premises comply with minimum standards on or before the day that the renter moves in. These minimum standards are set out in Schedule 4 of the Regulations. If this is not done, the renter may ask the rental provider for urgent repairs.

They include:

  • locks—all external doors (with the exception of screen doors attached to an external door) and windows are to be fitted with a functioning deadlock. if deadlock cannot be fitted, all external doors to be secured with a locking device operated by a key from the outside and able to be locked internally with or without a key (some exceptions for common property and heritage listed places)
  • rubbish bins—as provided by the council or vermin-proof and compatible with local council collection
  • toilets—good working order and connected to sewage or permitted waste-water system, or council approved system
  • bathroom—with reasonable supply of hot and cold water with basin and shower or bath
  • kitchen—food prep area, sink with hot and cold running water and cooktop (at least 2 burners) in good working order (exemption for heritage listed premises)
  • laundry—if available must be connected to reasonable hot and cold water supply
  • building—must be structurally sound and weatherproof
  • mould and dampness—every room must be free of mould and damp
  • electrical safety—(from 29 March 2023) approved switchboard safety switch to be included in electrical circuit
  • window coverings—(from 29 March 2022) all rooms likely to be used as bedrooms to have curtains or blinds that the renter can operate, sufficient to provide privacy and block light
  • windows— all external windows capable of opening must be able to be set in an open or closed position and must have a working latch to protect against entry from outside (such as a lock or bolt)
  • light—all internal rooms, hallways and corridors must have access to enough light to enable appropriate use of the room (some exemption for heritage listed residence). Habitable rooms to have access to natural light during daylight hours and artificial light at night.
  • ventilation—each habitable room, bathroom, toilet, laundry must have ventilation. Rules vary depending on whether the building is classed as 1 or 2 under the building code
  • heating—(current situation) a fixed heater in good working order must be in the main living area of a rented premises. If no heater exists, an energy efficient fixed heater is to be installed unless it is unreasonable to do so. It may be unreasonable if:
    • cost of installing energy efficient heater would be significantly higher than the average installation cost of a similar building
    • heater prohibited by body corporate
    • compliance with any other Act or local law makes cost prohibitive
  • heating—(from 29 March 2023) energy efficient heating to be installed. For class 2 dwellings, there is an exception if unreasonable to install energy efficient heater. In this case, functioning fixed heater is required.

Penalty for breach

The maximum penalty for failing to do this is:

  • 60 penalty units for a natural person, or
  • 300 penalty units for a body corporate.

Note: This breach may be dealt with as in infringement penalty. The penalty, if dealt with as in infringement is:

  • 12 penalty units (natural person) or 60 penalty units for a body corporate.

See ss. 65, 65A, 70—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) and (opens in a new window)r. 29, Schedules 4 and 5—Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

See CAV—Prepare for rental changes: Resources for rental providers—Rental minimum standards guide(opens in a new window).

What renter may do

Decide not to move in

A renter may decide to end the rental agreement and not move into the premises. A renter can do this, even if they have moved in. They may be able to claim compensation from the rental provider if they have suffered a financial loss.

See Compensation for wrongdoing by rental provider.

Urgent repairs

A breach of minimum rental standards is treated as an urgent repair. This means that a renter can contact the rental provider, seeking that the problem be fixed. The rental provider must comply. If the rental provider does not fix the problem, the renter may pay for the repair themselves up to a maximum of $2500 and seek reimbursement from VCAT.

Whether or not this would be seen as an urgent repair, would depend on when the rental agreement started. If the agreement started before 29 March 2021, a breach of the minimum standards would not apply and so would not be seen as an urgent repair.

See Repairs to property

Failure is a breach of a rental provider duty

The renter may choose to deal with this as a breach of duty.

See:

More information

Legislation

Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)

  • s. 65A—occupation of premises that do not comply with rental minimum standards

See Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) (opens in a new window).

Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021 (Vic)

  • Schedule 4—sets out rental minimum standards
  • item 23, Schedule 5—says the matter can be dealt with by issue of an infringement and lists the penalty if this is offered to expiate the fine

See Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021 (Vic)(opens in a new window).

References

Tenants Victoria

This specialist community legal centre has information about the minimum standards that apply to residential rental agreements from 29 March 2021.

See:

Updated