Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 – A Fairer Safer Housing initiative

The Residential Tenancies Act is the main source of consumer protection for Victorians living in rental housing, while also outlining the obligations of landlords and property managers.

Since it was introduced, there have been many changes, both in the rental market itself, and in the characteristics, needs and expectations of tenants and landlords.


Join a discussionYour stories

Public submissions

Make a submissionIssues paper






In the past, private rental was commonly a relatively short-term transitional arrangement, which ended in tenants moving to home ownership or in a move to social housing.


This is no longer the case, with growing numbers of Australians in rental housing, and around one-third of private tenantsContinue reading

The Residential Tenancies Act is the main source of consumer protection for Victorians living in rental housing, while also outlining the obligations of landlords and property managers.

Since it was introduced, there have been many changes, both in the rental market itself, and in the characteristics, needs and expectations of tenants and landlords.


Join a discussionYour stories

Public submissions

Make a submissionIssues paper






In the past, private rental was commonly a relatively short-term transitional arrangement, which ended in tenants moving to home ownership or in a move to social housing.


This is no longer the case, with growing numbers of Australians in rental housing, and around one-third of private tenants nationally considered to be “long-term”, having rented continuously for over 10 years. An increasing number of long-term tenants are either older people on fixed incomes, or families with children, for whom stability is important.

The reasons why people become and remain landlords have also changed significantly, with rental property becoming an important investment and a key feature of many people’s retirement plans.

Why a review?

Against the backdrop of these emerging trends, the Victorian Government believes it is once again time to review the Residential Tenancies Act and determine whether the balance of rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants is appropriate.

This will ensure that the law provides protections that are relevant to a modern and dynamic rental market, and meets current and future needs and expectations.

The review will consider the Residential Tenancies Act as a whole, while honing in on specific issues such as the viability of longer term leases, as well as increased protections for vulnerable tenant groups and people who live in caravan and residential parks.

The review is a project under the Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing, the Victorian Government’s broader work program of housing-related initiatives to ensure that all Victorians can access safe, affordable and secure housing.

The review will include:

  • in June 2015, the release of a consultation paper, Laying the Groundwork, outlining the Victorian rental market and seeking public comment on the effects of different trends in the sector. Download and read the Consultation paper - Laying the Groundwork (1.06 MB) (doc) .

  • over the second half of 2015 through early 2016, public consultation on a series of papers exploring a broad spectrum of rental housing issues – from secure tenancies, to protections for people living in caravan parks and residential parks, while also drawing on submissions on the Laying the Groundwork paper

  • in early to mid-2016, a public options paper outlining the outcomes of public consultation will be released for final discussion, with the aim of developing reform proposals for introduction into the Victorian Parliament in 2017. View the How parliament makes laws video on the Fairer Safer Housing website.

  • It is anticipated that the review will be completed by early to mid-2018.

We want to hear from you

Over the next three years, this website will be an important hub for community consultation and engagement.

You can watch videos, make a submission, and share your views in polls and online discussions.

To have your say and receive updates, register on the Fairer Safer Housing site.

For more about Fairer Safer Housing, view the FAQ section.

News Feed

  • Get involved - have your say on dispute resolution in rental housing

    18 days ago

    The Victorian Government’s Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing outlines a vision for ensuring everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.

    As part of this plan, the government is undertaking a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA). The review is considering how regulation can best meet the current and future needs and expectations of participants in the modern rental market.

    You can view public submissions and a summary of views from the first stage of the review ‑ and from the first issues paper, on security of tenure ‑ at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/yourviews.

    An issues paper... Continue reading

    The Victorian Government’s Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing outlines a vision for ensuring everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.

    As part of this plan, the government is undertaking a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA). The review is considering how regulation can best meet the current and future needs and expectations of participants in the modern rental market.

    You can view public submissions and a summary of views from the first stage of the review ‑ and from the first issues paper, on security of tenure ‑ at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/yourviews.

    An issues paper examining dispute resolution under the RTA is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting.

    Dispute resolution considers the options available to landlords and tenants to resolve disputes about their tenancy arrangements.

    Issues for public consultation include whether these dispute resolution mechanisms are:

    · fair – including taking into account how bargaining power is balanced between the parties

    · fast – minimising the financial and other impacts of a dispute

    · low-cost – cost should not be a barrier to resolving disputes, particularly in a sector supplying an
    essential commodity such as housing, and where the parties are predominantly private individuals

    · accessible – easy to find and understand, and accessible to a diverse population

    · fit for purpose – appropriate for the different types of disputes that arise

    · certain – providing consistent processes and outcomes that give tenants and landlords confidence to participate in the market.

    The issues paper also seeks feedback on any obstacles for vulnerable or disadvantaged tenants in using dispute resolution services.

    Until 27 June 2016, you can make a submission outlining your views on the issues paper.


  • View a summary of public views on the Security of Tenure issues paper

    about 1 month ago

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market were invited to respond to an issues paper examining how the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) influences security of tenure for landlords and tenants.

    For more detail, download the Security of Tenure issues paper (Word, 344KB).

    This was the first of a series of papers released during the Victorian Government’s comprehensive, evidence-based review of the RTA, and sought views on how well it addresses the needs and preferences of the Victorian community with regard to security of tenure in rental accommodation.

    Security of tenure was defined in the issues paper as the... Continue reading

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market were invited to respond to an issues paper examining how the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) influences security of tenure for landlords and tenants.

    For more detail, download the Security of Tenure issues paper (Word, 344KB).

    This was the first of a series of papers released during the Victorian Government’s comprehensive, evidence-based review of the RTA, and sought views on how well it addresses the needs and preferences of the Victorian community with regard to security of tenure in rental accommodation.

    Security of tenure was defined in the issues paper as the degree of certainty a person has about their residential accommodation, including the:

    • choice to stay or leave

    • legal protections they have over their tenancy

    • sustainability of their tenancy in terms of cost and amenity.

    The issues paper comprised three community and stakeholder discussion themes:

    • What are the needs and preferences of tenants and landlords for security of tenure?

    • How does the RTA provide for security of tenure in general residencies?

    • How does the RTA provide for security of tenure in rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks?


    In total, 331 contributors responded to the issues paper through four different channels, including posting stories online, participating in online forums, providing written submissions and social media posts.

    To find out what the contributors told us about the Security of Tenure issues paper:

    • As part of the review, the public have been consulted on two other issues papers:

    • bonds rents and other charges (closed)

    • rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants (open until 3 May)

    A further three issues papers will be released for public consultation in the first half of 2016. These will explore:

    • dispute resolution

    • alternative forms of tenure

    • property conditions and standards

    An options paper building on the outcomes of public consultation and sector-wide market research, will be released for discussion, with a view to developing reform proposals for introduction into the Victorian Parliament in late 2017.

    To register and have your say, visit the sign up page on the Fairer Safer Housing website.


  • Get involved - have your say on rights and responsibilities in rental housing (closed for review)

    2 months ago

    You can view public submissions and a summary of views from the first stage of the review at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/yourviews. Responses to the first issues paper, on security of tenure, are also available on the website.

    An issues paper examining rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the RTA is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting.

    Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants considers how the RTA sets boundaries around what tenants and landlords can and cannot do throughout the tenancy relationship. Issues for public consultation include:

    You can view public submissions and a summary of views from the first stage of the review at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/yourviews. Responses to the first issues paper, on security of tenure, are also available on the website.

    An issues paper examining rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the RTA is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting.

    Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants considers how the RTA sets boundaries around what tenants and landlords can and cannot do throughout the tenancy relationship. Issues for public consultation include:

    • the tenancy application process and appropriate screening practices

    • information that should be disclosed to a tenant at the start of a tenancy

    • digital technology and the form and service of documents and notices

    • the process to be followed when a landlord or tenant breaches a duty under the RTA

    • enforcing additional terms in the tenancy agreement, including rules about pets

    • balancing the right of tenants to quiet enjoyment and the right of landlords to enter premises, particularly where the premises is being sold

    • balancing the interests of landlords and tenants in respect of sub-letting and lease assignments

    • reasons a landlord or tenant can terminate a lease, and rules around compensation for lease breaking

    • what arrangements should apply to goods left behind by a tenant at the end of a tenancy

    • increasing protections for tenants experiencing family violence

    • the conduct of agents acting on behalf of landlords.

    The Victorian Government is examining increased protections for vulnerable tenant groups as part of the Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing.

    Until 3 May, you can make a submission outlining your views on the issues paper.
  • Get involved - have your say on rent, bonds and other charges in rental housing (closed for review)

    3 months ago

    The Victorian Government’s Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing outlined a vision for ensuring everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.

    As part of this plan, the government is undertaking a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA). The review is considering how regulation can best meet the current and future needs and expectations of participants in the modern rental market.

    You can view the public submissions and a summary of views from the first stage of the review at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/yourviews. Public submissions to the Security of tenure issues... Continue reading

    The Victorian Government’s Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing outlined a vision for ensuring everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.

    As part of this plan, the government is undertaking a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA). The review is considering how regulation can best meet the current and future needs and expectations of participants in the modern rental market.

    You can view the public submissions and a summary of views from the first stage of the review at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/yourviews. Public submissions to the Security of tenure issues paper will be made available in early March.

    An issues paper examining rent, bonds and other charges under the RTA is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting. While the RTA does not regulate the amount of rent that can be charged, it does set rules for:

    • maximum amounts for bonds and rent in advance
    • the frequency of rent increases
    • tenants’ and landlords’ responsibilities for fees, charges and ongoing costs, such as utilities.

    The Victorian Government has committed to examining annual rent increases as part of its Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing.

    The issues paper explores how legislation and other factors may influence the costs associated with renting, from the perspective of landlords and tenants in Victoria. It also outlines different approaches by other jurisdictions and key issues in considering legislative reform.

    Until 6 April, you can make a submission outlining your views on the issues paper.

  • Have your say: Security of Tenure issues paper is now closed for review

    7 months ago

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market are invited to respond to an issues paper examining how the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) influences security of tenure for landlords and tenants.

    Security of tenure refers to the degree of certainty someone has about their housing arrangements. If you are renting, you are likely to have security of tenure if you:

    • can choose to stay or leave
    • have legal protections if problems arise
    • are being charged a sustainable rent, and
    • have certainty that the property will be maintained appropriately.

    The issues paper,... Continue reading

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market are invited to respond to an issues paper examining how the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) influences security of tenure for landlords and tenants.

    Security of tenure refers to the degree of certainty someone has about their housing arrangements. If you are renting, you are likely to have security of tenure if you:

    • can choose to stay or leave
    • have legal protections if problems arise
    • are being charged a sustainable rent, and
    • have certainty that the property will be maintained appropriately.

    The issues paper, available here, is the first of a series to be released during the Victorian Government’s comprehensive, evidence-based review of the RTA.

    The issues paper considers security of tenure in the modern rental market, with a view to understanding whether and how the RTA supports landlords and tenants in achieving tenancy arrangements that meet their needs.

    Victorians are encouraged to make a submission, share their experiences and participate in polls, blogs and discussions.

    You can make a submission outlining your views on the issues paper until 21 December 2015.

    Get involved, have your say about Victoria’s renting laws.

  • Updating Victoria’s renting laws: the story so far and what’s next

    7 months ago

    On 24 June, as part of its Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing, the Victorian Government began a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 with the release of the Laying the Groundwork consultation paper (Word, 1.06MB).

    The paper described trends and behaviours in the rental market and characteristics of landlords and tenants, based on currently available data.

    Victorians shared their views on the consultation paper through online discussions and polls, and formal submissions.

    To find out more about the discussions we’ve had with the community so far, you can:

    On 24 June, as part of its Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing, the Victorian Government began a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 with the release of the Laying the Groundwork consultation paper (Word, 1.06MB).

    The paper described trends and behaviours in the rental market and characteristics of landlords and tenants, based on currently available data.

    Victorians shared their views on the consultation paper through online discussions and polls, and formal submissions.

    To find out more about the discussions we’ve had with the community so far, you can:

    More about the review of the Residential Tenancies Act, and how to have your say, is also available in 23 community languages.

    Get involved in the next stage of the review

    The first in a series of issues papers will be released in November. It will examine how Victoria’s renting laws affect security of tenure – that is, how stable or secure someone’s tenancy arrangements are - and how these laws might be improved.

    During the consultation period for this issues paper, you will be able to take part in online discussions and quick polls, and share your renting experiences through the new ‘Your Story’ tool.

    Register to get involved by visiting the Register page.


  • Have your say on Victoria’s renting laws:

    10 months ago

    On 24 June 2015, as part of its Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing, the Victorian Government launched a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 with the release of a consultation paper titled Laying the Groundwork.

    The paper described trends and behaviours in the rental market, as well as characteristics of landlords and tenants, based on currently available data. View the Laying the Groundwork consultation paper on the Fairer Safer Housing website (PDF, 1.5MB)

    Stage one consultation has closed on the paper has now closed.

    Get... Continue reading

    On 24 June 2015, as part of its Plan for Fairer, Safer Housing, the Victorian Government launched a comprehensive, evidence-based review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 with the release of a consultation paper titled Laying the Groundwork.

    The paper described trends and behaviours in the rental market, as well as characteristics of landlords and tenants, based on currently available data. View the Laying the Groundwork consultation paper on the Fairer Safer Housing website (PDF, 1.5MB)

    Stage one consultation has closed on the paper has now closed.

    Get involved in the next stage of the review

    We welcome your continuing contributions to discussion questions and quick polls on the Fairer Safer Housing site.

    Register on the Fairer Safer Housing website to be advised of the launch of Stage 2 of the review, during which you will be able to comment on a range of issues papers examining the operation of the legislation in greater detail.

    For more information, visit the Fairer Safer Housing website.