New Duties for Landlords

September 24, 2012

From 31 March 2013, Consumer Affairs Victoria will have new powers to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $2,800 to rooming house operators who fail to keep their accommodation up to new legislated standards brought into the Residential Tenancies Act 1997(Vic).

The new requirements could have a significant impact on the costs of running a rooming house, which is defined in the legislation as a building in which there is one or more rooms available for occupancy on payment of rent-

(a)     in which the total number of people who may occupy those rooms is not less than 4; or

(b)    in respect of which a declaration … is in force;

The new infringement regime will complement the privacy, safety, security and amenity standards under the Residential Tenancies (Rooming House Standards) Regulations 2012. Under this regime, if an inspector finds a clear breach of the minimum standards, it can be penalised by on-the-spot fines of as much as $2,800 per breach. The powers are designed to have a particularly strong impact on landlords who do not properly maintain bedrooms, common areas and facilities.

The minimum standards for privacy, safety, security and amenity include the following:

  • All residents’ rooms must have locks, two working power outlets and window coverings for privacy;
  • Bathrooms and toilets must have privacy locks or latches, and be kept clean and maintained;
  • Kitchen facilities must be adequate for the use of all residents, including a working cook top and stove and adequate fridge space;
  • The front entrance must be well-lit and be able to be opened from inside without a key; and
  • General standards require rooming houses to have: a fire evacuation plan, be well-lit day and night, have good ventilation, windows must be able to be kept open or closed without a key, and periodic checks must be conducted on gas and electrical installations and fittings.

As the new laws do not take effect until early next year, rooming house operators should take the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new requirements and ensure their accommodation is up to standard.

Please contact Bernie Curtin on 03 9870 9870 if you would like to discuss this or any other residential or commercial tenancy issues.

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