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 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 late 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.

  • View a public summary of views on the issues paper ‘Dispute resolution’

    about 1 month ago

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market were invited to respond to an issues paper examining the dispute resolution services and mechanisms that are available in residential tenancies. The public were asked to consider each of the dispute resolution mechanisms as well as the overall system, and comment on how well they provide the features and outcomes listed below:

    ·fair – processes and decisions are fair, and address any power imbalances in the landlord/tenant relationship

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

    ·low-cost – recognising that cost should... Continue reading

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market were invited to respond to an issues paper examining the dispute resolution services and mechanisms that are available in residential tenancies. The public were asked to consider each of the dispute resolution mechanisms as well as the overall system, and comment on how well they provide the features and outcomes listed below:

    · fair – processes and decisions are fair, and address any power imbalances in the landlord/tenant relationship

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

    · low-cost – recognising that cost should not be a barrier to resolving renting disputes

    · accessible – easy to find and understand, and delivered in accessible ways

    · fit for purpose – appropriate for the type of dispute and the outcome sought

    · certain – decisions are consistent, giving landlords and tenants confidence to participate in the rental market and encouraging them to comply with the law.

    The majority of tenants polled (74 per cent) considered fairness to be the most important outcome for dispute resolution.

    A total of 295 individuals and organisations provided a response to the Issues Paper through five different channels ranging from posting stories online, participating in online forums, providing written submissions, email comments and social media posts.

    For more detail, download the Dispute resolution issues paper (Word, 856KB).

    To find out what the contributors told us about the Dispute resolution issues paper:

    As part of the review, the public have been consulted on five other issues papers that are
    now closed for consultation:

    • security of tenure
    • rents bonds and other charges
    • rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants
    • regulation of property conditions in the rental market
    • alternate forms of tenure

    In late 2016 an options paper will be released for consultation that builds on the outcomes of public consultation and sector-wide market research.

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


  • Research into Victorians’ rental experiences published

    4 months ago

    Research commissioned by Consumer Affairs Victoria has provided an insight into the experiences of Victorian tenants and landlords in 2016.

    Conducted by EY Sweeney, the independent research collected the views of over 2000 people.
    It involved surveys and interviews with tenants, landlords, property managers and people living in
    caravan and residential parks, and covered a wide range of topics.

    The findings will help to guide options for reform to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA), which is undergoing a comprehensive review due for completion in 2018.

    The data collected, along with submissions... Continue reading

    Research commissioned by Consumer Affairs Victoria has provided an insight into the experiences of Victorian tenants and landlords in 2016.

    Conducted by EY Sweeney, the independent research collected the views of over 2000 people.
    It involved surveys and interviews with tenants, landlords, property managers and people living in
    caravan and residential parks, and covered a wide range of topics.

    The findings will help to guide options for reform to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA), which is undergoing a comprehensive review due for completion in 2018.

    The data collected, along with submissions and contributions made to the review, will assist in the development of options for reform to be presented for public consultation later this year.

    To view the full results of the research into Victorian rental experiences, visit the Fairer, Safer Housing website: fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting/documents


  • View a public summary of views on the issues paper, Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants.

    4 months ago

    View a public summary of views on the issues paper, Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants.

    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.

    For more detail, download the Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants issues paper (Word, 281KB).

    A total of 476 individuals and organisations provided a response to the Issues Paper through four different channels ranging from posting stories online, participating in online forums, providing written submissions and social media posts.

    To find out what the contributors told... Continue reading

    View a public summary of views on the issues paper, Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants.

    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.

    For more detail, download the Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants issues paper (Word, 281KB).

    A total of 476 individuals and organisations provided a response to the Issues Paper through four different channels ranging from posting stories online, participating in online forums, providing written submissions and social media posts.

    To find out what the contributors told us about the Rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants issues paper:

    download a summary of views (pdf) (708 KB)

    • see a list of public submissions on the public submissions page of the Fairer Safer Housing website.

  • Get involved - have your say on rental arrangements in caravan parks, residential parks and rooming houses (closed for review)

    4 months ago

    An issues paper examining caravan park, residential park and rooming house rental arrangements under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting/documents.

    Alternate forms of tenure considers the distinctive features of these rental accommodation types and specific issues affecting residents and operators.

    Issues for public consultation include:

    ·in what situations a person living in a caravan park should be covered by the RTA

    ·issues arising from the condition and sale of dwellings in caravan parks and residential parks

    ·what happens when a caravan park or residential park is sold or closes down

    ·... Continue reading

    An issues paper examining caravan park, residential park and rooming house rental arrangements under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting/documents.

    Alternate forms of tenure considers the distinctive features of these rental accommodation types and specific issues affecting residents and operators.

    Issues for public consultation include:

    · in what situations a person living in a caravan park should be covered by the RTA

    · issues arising from the condition and sale of dwellings in caravan parks and residential parks

    · what happens when a caravan park or residential park is sold or closes down

    · community living issues in parks and rooming houses

    · types of agreement that rooming house residents and operators can enter into, and

    · new and emerging models of rooming houses and rental housing, and how these should be regulated.

    Until 19 September, you can make a submission outlining your views on the issues paper.
  • View a public summary of views on the issues paper Rent, Bonds and Other Charges.

    4 months ago

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market were invited to respond to an issues paper examining how well the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) balances the interests of landlords and tenants with respect to expenses associated with managing rental arrangements.

    The second in a series of issues papers, key questions for consideration included:

    • maximum bond amounts and increases
    • reclaiming bonds at the end of a tenancy
    • maximum amounts of rent in advance
    • rental bidding and auctions
    • late payment of rent
    • other payments and charges, such as line installation or
    • ... Continue reading

    Victorians with an interest in the rental market were invited to respond to an issues paper examining how well the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (RTA) balances the interests of landlords and tenants with respect to expenses associated with managing rental arrangements.

    The second in a series of issues papers, key questions for consideration included:

    • maximum bond amounts and increases
    • reclaiming bonds at the end of a tenancy
    • maximum amounts of rent in advance
    • rental bidding and auctions
    • late payment of rent
    • other payments and charges, such as line installation or
    • connection fees for a telephone, internet or cable television.


    For more detail, download the Rent, bonds and other charges issues paper (Word, 271KB).

    A total of 312 individuals and organisations provided a response to the Issues Paper through four different channels ranging from posting stories online, participating in online forums, providing written submissions and social media posts.

    Twenty-four organisations provided a written submission, the majority of which were from organisations and support services that represented the views and experiences of tenants.

    To find out what the contributors told us about the rents, bonds and other charges issues paper:


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

    • security of tenure (closed)
    • rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants (closed)
    • dispute resolution (closed)
    • regulation of property conditions in the rental market (open until 11 August)


    A final issues papers will be released for public consultation in August 2016. The paper will explore issues that are unique to alternate forms of tenure, including caravan and residential parks, and rooming houses.

    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 property conditions in rental housing (closed for review)

    5 months ago

    An issues paper examining how the RTA regulates the condition of rental properties is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting. Regulation of property conditions in the rental market considers landlord and tenant responsibilities for the condition of a property throughout a tenancy.

    Issues for public consultation include:

    • landlords’ obligations to ensure rental properties are safe, secure and liveable, including whether minimum standards should be prescribed for private rental housing

    • tenants’ obligations to avoid damage to the property, other than fair wear and tear

    • tenants’ ability to modify the property, including to support tenants... Continue reading

    An issues paper examining how the RTA regulates the condition of rental properties is now available at fairersaferhousing.vic.gov.au/renting. Regulation of property conditions in the rental market considers landlord and tenant responsibilities for the condition of a property throughout a tenancy.

    Issues for public consultation include:

    • landlords’ obligations to ensure rental properties are safe, secure and liveable, including whether minimum standards should be prescribed for private rental housing

    • tenants’ obligations to avoid damage to the property, other than fair wear and tear

    • tenants’ ability to modify the property, including to support tenants with a disability

    • whether standards of cleanliness, maintenance and repairs expected of both landlords and tenants should be clarified – including who is responsible for maintenance not specified in the RTA, such as replacing smoke alarm batteries

    • timeliness of repairs

    • appropriate penalties for non-compliance.

    Until 11 August, you can make a submission outlining your views on the issues paper
  • Get involved - have your say on dispute resolution in rental housing (closed for review)

    7 months 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

    8 months 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)

    9 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)

    10 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.