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What do the new rental laws mean for Victorian renters?

New Victorian renting laws came into effect on 29 March 2021.

This page provides an overview of what happens if:

  • you fall behind in rent;
  • you are facing eviction;
  • what happens if you have a COVID-19 related agreement or order; and
  • where you can get financial and legal help.

This page is up to date as of 29 March 2021 and applies only to residential renters in Victoria, Australia.

Can I be evicted?

From 29 March 2021, the eviction moratorium is no longer in place and there are certain circumstances where your rental provider (previously called a landlord) can take steps to evict you.

If you are struggling with rent because of COVID-19, there is no longer a legal requirement for your rental provider to accept a rent reduction unless you applied to Consumer Affairs Victoria or VCAT before 29 March 2021.

If you fall 14 days behind in rent, your rental provider can now issue you with a Notice to Vacate, which is the first step in the eviction process. You don’t have to leave if you get a Notice to Vacate – you still have options. You can use Dear Landlord to find out your rights if you’re behind in rent, and what you can do in this situation.

Dear Landlord: A free self-help tool for Victorian renters

If you are behind in rent or struggling to pay rent, Dear Landlord can help you understand your options based on your circumstances. Simply answer a few questions and Dear Landlord will help determine the best way forward, whether that’s helping you draft a payment plan request to your rental provider, prepare a VCAT review application, get ready for a VCAT hearing, end a lease, and finding further financial or legal help.

Use Dear Landlord

 

You should get legal help if:

  • You receive a Notice to Vacate.
  • You have a VCAT hearing coming up.
  • VCAT has made a possession order against you, but your rental provider or real estate agent hasn’t yet purchased a warrant of possession from VCAT.
  • A warrant of possession has been purchased, but it hasn’t yet been executed by police (for example, by changing the locks at your rental property).
  • You have a mediation or dispute resolution coming up about your rental.
  • You have been threatened with eviction.
  • Your rental has been affected by family violence.

For more about legal help, see Who can help me? below.

The residential tenancies list at VCAT is still hearing eviction matters by telephone or video. We encourage you to get legal advice before attending your hearing (see Who can help me?).

At risk of eviction into homelessness? Get free legal help.

Apply now

What happens if I have a rent reduction agreement or Dispute Resolution Order?

Any rent reduction agreements or orders made prior to 29 March will still apply until the expiry date of your agreement or order (which may be after the new laws come into effect).

If you have an existing rent reduction or rent deferral agreement or order made during COVID-19, use Dear Landlord to find out what this means for you.

Do I have to pay ordinary rent?

From 29 March 2021, renters will have to pay their ordinary rent unless they have a current rent reduction agreement or dispute resolution order. If you fall behind in rent from 29 March 2021, your rental provider can take steps to evict you for rent arrears.

Rent increases

Your rental provider can increase your rent from 29 March 2021. For any new agreement since 19 June 2019, your rent can only be increased once every 12 months. You should get legal advice if you’re not sure.

Where can I get financial help to pay my rent?

The COVID-19 Rent Relief Grant scheme has now finished up.

If you need more financial support we strongly encourage you to apply for financial assistance to cover the cost of rent and rent arrears. Financial assistance – also known as brokerage – is funded by the Victorian Government and distributed through your local housing organisation. Call Opening Doors on 1800 825 955 or find your closest housing organisation. This is not generally available for renters in public or community housing.

Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide free information, advice and advocacy if you are in financial difficulty or struggling with debts. Depending on your circumstances, financial counsellors can help you have debts reduced, access concession rates on bills and utilities, and apply for no interest loans.

Find a free financial counsellor.

Can I end my rental agreement if I can’t pay my rent or I want to move out?

You can end your rental agreement in certain circumstances. Dear Landlord can give you more information and where to get legal help if you want to take this step.

Who can help me?

Legal help

Justice Connect Homeless Law

Justice Connect’s Homeless Law service can provide legal representation if you receive a Notice to Vacate from your rental provider, if you have a VCAT hearing coming up, or you missed a VCAT hearing.

Our Homeless Law service can also offer help with rentals affected by family violence, and with housing debts.

You can apply for our help online or call 1800 606 313 (freecall from landlines).

Victoria Legal Aid

Victoria Legal Aid’s Legal Help telephone information and advice line is operating, and renters can call 1300 792 387 for assistance. There will be a surge in demand and delays, so it is recommended that only renters with current legal proceedings call that number for assistance.

Tenants Victoria

Tenants Victoria can provide legal advice via email or renters can call on 03 9416 2577 (Mon to Fri 10am to 2pm). They have resources for renters available online.

Your local community legal service

Your local community legal service may also be able to offer you legal help.

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service

If you are a Victorian renter who identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, you may want to contact the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service for legal help.

Tenant advocates

You can also find a free tenant advocate (someone who isn’t a lawyer but has experience helping renters enforce their rights) in your local area who can help with advice and representing you at a hearing if you have a private rental property. Find your local Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program provider.

Anika Legal

Anika is a free online legal service that provides advice and casework for Victorian tenants who need repairs at their rental property or to negotiate with your rental provider or agent.

Consumer Affairs Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria have limited phone services and are prioritising urgent matters. You can also make an online enquiry if your matter isn’t urgent. Consumer Affairs Victoria have a guide for renters available online.

This page will be updated regularly to reflect any changes that impact on the housing security of renters in Victoria.