Welcome to our new column for renters, The Rental Diaries.
Fortnightly, real estate rental guru Richard Saville, the founder and director of Break Your Lease, answers your burning questions that can cause conflict or confusion, with sound advice no matter the sticky situation.
If you are a renter and have a question for Richard, email it to: email@example.com
Please include the state or territory you live in.
Break Your Lease is a social platform for renters and rental providers, with more than one million users, that allows renters to take over another’s lease. Follow Richard on Instagram: @reekko @breakyourlease
I was just wondering if it is legal for the landlord to raise the rent by $50 after a year of renting. I am renting in Victoria. Some people have told me that he is not allowed to raise it by that much. Is it true?
Hi Shaik, the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act is much the same as the rest of Australia, where rent cannot be increased during a fixed-term agreement, unless it is written into your agreement.
If it is in your rental agreement, it should state the amount and not exceed that. Keep an eye out on this clause in any new rental agreements, as you can negotiate the increase amount.
If your agreement is periodic, the rental provider can only increase the rent once every 12 months, and no more.
If the amount is more than on your rental agreement or if you think it is excessive, you can apply to Consumer Affairs Victoria for a rent assessment. You will need to provide evidence of how many times the rent has been increased within 24 months and by how much.
A Consumer Affairs Investigator will inform you and the rental provider of their findings. If the investigator finds the increase to be fair, you must pay the increase. If the investigator believes the increase to be excessive and the rental provider will not lower the proposed amount, you have the option to take the matter to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). This must be done ASAP, as there is a 30 day time limit.
Please remember, you must pay the increased amount from the proposed date until you have been through the VCAT process.
I have been living in the same rental property for six years. A few years ago another real estate took over for inspections and I started to get reports of things that weren’t up to scratch in their opinion. Spider webs on the front door (I don’t use the front door, come through the garage), a mark on the oven door (easily removed) and grass growing through the outside pavers. My house is always clean, there isn’t any damage and I very rarely ask for anything to be done.
What grinds my gears is that when there is an inspection, they always say the window sills are dusty. Every time. Surely that’s not something that they can complain about all the time?
Isn’t dust a normal part of life? Do I keep saying to the real estate that I feel they are picking on my house-keeping skills rather than looking for damages? On the letter they send to advise they will be attending, it says the house must be in the same condition as when I moved in. When I moved in, it was empty. Is it right to be looking at my home as an exit clean each and every time? Because that’s what it feels like.
Hi Jo, your final sentence hits the nail on the head – “Is a quarterly/periodic rental inspection an exit clean?” Simple answer is no. The purpose of rental inspections is to check the condition of the property and to identify any damages or maintenance.
Check your rental agreement for specific cleaning stipulations where things like carpets must be cleaned annually. In terms of cleanliness, if the rental provider wants clean windowsills and no cob webs you will have to add it to your quick clean list the morning of inspection.
Rest assured, for any renters with teenagers out there, they cannot tell you the bed has to be made and the clothes peering out from under the bed have to be picked up, as that has nothing to do with the condition of the property.
Please note: the information in this column is general in nature and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate legal or professional advice, specific to a tenancy situation.