Landlords to fight Victorian rental plan that allows tenants to have pets

Proposed reforms crack down on rental bidding, restrict rent increases and require homes to have a functioning stove, heating and deadlocks

Landlords to fight Victorian rental plan that allows tenants to have pets

Laws that would allow tenants in Victoria to keep pets regardless of their landlord’s wishes and restrict rent increases to once a year will be introduced to state parliament this week.

Daniel Andrews’ government is seeking to push the laws through both houses before the November state election but faces opposition from the real estate industry, which claims landlords will flee the market in response.

The 130 proposed changes include the requirement that every rental home has a functioning stove, heating and deadlocks, a crackdown on rental bidding, and a ban on increasing rent more than once a year.

Bonds will be capped at four weeks’ rent and renters will have the right to make minor modifications to the home without consent, such as putting hooks on the walls.

The government needs the support of minor parties to pass the legislation in the upper house and will face a lobbying campaign from the powerful Real Estate Institute of Victoria.

The president of the REIV, Richard Simpson, said Victoria’s vacancy rate was “already sitting at its lowest point in a decade” and the new laws would “further deplete that pool with landlords simply pulling out because it is becoming all too hard and too much of a risk”.

Simpson took particular issue with forcing landlords to allow tenants to have pets.

“The idea that landlords cannot have a say if pets are permitted to live in their houses or if modifications are allowed is completely unreasonable considering the possible negative impact on landlords’ properties,” he said.

Under the laws, landlords could stop tenants from keeping a pet only by obtaining an order through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Supporters of the changes dismissed suggestions landlords would flee the market, because of the generous tax concessions still available to investors.

Mark O’Brien, the chief executive of Tenants Victoria, said any moves to “dilute these reforms would be very unpopular in the community”.

“It would be a huge loss for tenants who have already waited far too long for a fair go,” he said.

The legislation will be introduced to parliament on Tuesday. Other changes include allowing tenants to terminate a rental agreement for family violence reasons.

The Coalition is yet to say if it will oppose the legislation, but the consumer affairs spokeswoman, Heidi Victoria, accused the government of dragging its heels on releasing a draft.

“This important legislation needs proper scrutiny to ensure there are no unintended consequences and that we don’t see a situation that results in higher rents or less availability,” Victoria said.

The Greens consumer affairs spokeswoman, Lidia Thorpe, said many renters had assumed the laws “had already come into effect”.

“The upper house is backed up with legislation. Already they are sitting extra days to get through it all,” she said. “To keep its promise to renters, the Andrews government must prioritise these laws to give them a chance to pass.”

The government first announced the changes nearly 10 months ago.