The rights of landlords shouldn’t be forgotten in a review of the legislation covering rental agreements in Victoria.
In November 2014, the Victorian government announced that as part of the Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing Initiative, which aims to increase the availability of safe and affordable housing in the state, they would undertake a review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
The review will look at the act in its entirety, but according to the government will have an emphasis on areas such as “the viability of longer-term leases of five to ten years and protections for people who are older, living with disabilities and who live in caravan and residential parks.”
“The government is reviewing the Residential Tenancies Act to strengthen the laws which protect renters and guides landlords about their responsibilities,” Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Jane Garrett said.
“We’re making sure laws around renting strike a fair balance between the rights of people who live in a rental property and the people they rent those properties from.”
While housing affordability is the main focus of the review, managing director of property investment advisors Real Wealth Australia Helen Collier-Kogtevs believes there are a number of areas where the rights of landlords need to be addressed.
“The notice period to end a tenancy needs to be reviewed. Currently it is unfair to landlords in that they are required to give 60 days’ notice to end a tenancy whereas the tenant only needs to give 28 days’ notice,” Collier-Kogtevs said.
“The notice period to increase rent at the end of a lease period is currently 60 days, it should be reviewed such that it can be increased immediately at the end of a lease and when and if the tenant decides to sign a new lease,” she said.
Changes should also be made so that tenants have to allow inspections before their lease expires and to prevent landlords suffering if tenants fail to pay rent.
“It should be easier and quicker to evict a tenant who defaults on paying their rent on time. Landlords have mortgages to pay and banks don't accept default mortgage payments. Landlords shouldn't be expected to wear the cost of an errant tenant not paying their agreed rent on time,” Collier-Kogtevs said
“The two-tenant policy needs to be reviewed such that if one tenant fails to provide their share of the rent then the other is liable to pay it. Either tenant should be jointly and severally liable for paying the rent.”
Collier-Kogtevs said from a landlord’s point of view she had no issue with 10-year leases, however there was likely to be opposition from other sectors.
“The banks are not likely to agree to them because it means that if the owner defaults on the loan and banks have a mortgagee sale they will only be able to sell the property to an investor because the 10 year lease will have to be honoured even though the ownership changes.
“This will limit the number of potential buyers which in turn will increase the risk to the bank that it may not sell.”
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