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Tenancy agreements

Information about what a tenancy agreement is under the Residential Tenancies Act and what the exceptions are.

A residential tenancy agreement is a legal contract to rent a premises. It is binding for both the landlord and the tenant. It can be:

  • a written or verbal agreement
  • expressed clearly or implied (by actions or words).

If the agreement is made in writing, it has to be in a standard form.

See 'Starting a tenancy' (link below)

How long do agreements last?

Tenancy agreements can be:

  • fixed-term—usually for 6 or 12 months, or
  • periodic—from month to month.

At the end of a fixed-term tenancy agreement, the agreement automatically continues as a periodic lease until the tenant or the landlord give notice.

Exceptions to the Act

The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) governs most agreements in Victoria, however there are some exceptions. The exceptions are:

  • fixed-term tenancy agreements exceeding 5 years
  • agreements with no provision to end by notice between the parties (other than a breach of agreement) within 5 years of the time the agreement was made
  • if part of the premises let by the landlord to the tenant are used for trade or business by the tenant
  • if the premises are landlord's principal place of residence and agreement is for a fixed term, or less than 60 days
  • if the premises are ordinarily rented for holidays
  • some properties that are let for the purposes of grazing or farming
  • crisis accommodation in a not for profit organisation (if resident for less than 14 days)
  • people living in (liquor) licensed premises for less than 60 days.

See ss. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13—Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) (link below)

Tenant, border or guest?

A person may not be considered a tenant if they have do not have exclusive use of at least part of the residence. If they are not defined as a tenant they will not be protected under the Act.

If the person is classified as a licensee (border or lodger) they are not protected by the Act. This licence can be revoked by either party. If a person is a licensee, any disputes need to be dealt with by the Civil List at VCAT.

See 'Victorian Civil Administration Tribunal' and 'Share housing—Licensees' (links below)

More information

Legislation

Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic)

  • s. 3—definitions of tenant and tenancy agreement
  • s. 6—tenancy agreements exceeding 5 years
  • s. 7—premises used primarily as a residence
  • s. 8—premises connected to premises used for trade or business
  • s. 9—principal place of residence
  • s. 10—premises used for holidays
  • s. 11—farming and grazing
  • s. 20—people living in motel premises licensed under the Liquour Control Reform Act 1998
  • s. 22—crisis accommodation
  • s. 507— there is a presumption that the Residential Tenancy Act (Vic) applies until this is disproved

See Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic).

Victorian Civil and Administrative Trubunal (VCAT)

Disputes where the person is a border or lodger and not a tenant are heard in the Civil claims list of VCAT.

See:

Tenants Union of Victoria

Introduction to tenancy law

Introduction to tenancy law (ppt, 677 KB)(opens in a new window)

Presentation by Maya Narayan from TUV that gives an overview of tenancy law in Victoria.

Updated