Victorian Government looking at minimum standards for rental properties

If you own a rental property in Melbourne you may soon have to meet minimum condition standards before you can rent it out.

The Victorian Government is looking at its tenancy legislation its Plan for Fairer Safer Housing review, and is working through solutions to a recent discussion paper on the condition of rental properties in the state.

One of those solutions could be copying states like South Australia and Tasmania who enforce minimum standards for dwellings before they can be offered for lease and there’s concerns it may reduce the rental market and lift rents at the cheaper end of the market.

Some of the standards that may have to be met include ensuring the property can be connected to utilities, has safety and security features, is weatherproof, has kitchen and laundry facilities and is fitted with smoke alarms.

Other requirements may include fitting rental properties with temperature control devices and energy efficiency features such as insulation, water saving devices and draught-proofing.

Melbourne Asset Management’s director of property management Cameron Osborne told Your Investment Property the move was a positive step forward but the Government needed to strike a balance.

“Currently in Victoria you can rent out a cardboard box,” he said.

“There’s no minimum standards at all which is pretty crazy and unfortunately people are renting out things like caravans and shipping containers.”

“It’s probably going too far when it comes to things like energy efficiency. If an owner has to do that sort of thing then they’re going to have to put the rents up to cover costs or they’ll choose not to rent a property out.”

“Either way that’s probably going to impact the number of properties available to rent at the cheaper end of the market.”

Mr Osborne said it would be a difficult system to enforce.

Rental property owners aren’t being forgotten, the discussion paper also looked at the condition of rentals on return. The law currently requires tenants to return properties in a ‘reasonably clean’ state.

Mr Osborne told Your Investment Property he’d like to see landlords have a stronger advantage.

“VCAT’s stance seems to be as long as it’s had a regular Saturday clean then it’s ok and if the owners have to send cleaners in between tenancies then so be it,” he said.

“If I put in that the carpet has to be professionally steam cleaned then I’m actually legislating outside the Act.”

“I don’t think it’s too excessive that after a year of tenancy that someone should clean the carpets, that shouldn’t be the owner’s responsibility.”

Mr Osborne said when it came to wear and tear, there would always be debate between tenants and landlords as to what is normal wear and tear and what is damage.


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