Ewan's Blog

A question to consider

Wednesday 15 Aug 2018

Last week I was asked a ‘what if’ question by a reader of this blog in relation to changes in rental regulations being proposed in Victoria, so this week I’m going to answer it.  Providing information and answering questions are two key services offered by real estate agents.  We don’t profess to be fortune tellers who can faultlessly predict the future, however with experience and professional insight we can offer careful, considered advice and opinions to help buyers and vendors make good choices in terms of property.  Now onto that question...

For those who haven’t been following it, the Victorian Government is expected to introduce rental law reforms into parliament in the very near future.  The question was what would be the potential impact if similar reforms were adopted in New South Wales?

The proposed Victorian reforms include changes preventing landlords from prohibiting pets without applying for and obtaining a special exemption, allowing tenants to make minor modifications to a property without consent, limiting rent increases to once a year, banning rental bidding and requiring landlords to provide a reason for ending a tenancy.

The main pitch for the reforms has been to ensure there is a fair balance of rights and responsibilities between a tenant and a landlord. 

The government is being criticised by some for taking too long to bring in the reforms and by others who feel the reforms will negatively impact the residential investment property market because they provide too much power to the tenant.  

Look, as much as I find it frustrating to think we need to legislate for common sense the reality is there do need to be provisions in place to protect people from potential exploitation. I absolutely agree there needs to be a balance between rights and responsibilities in the rental property market but we are seeing in Victoria is how difficult it is to find the tipping point between the two.

I think the proposed Victorian reforms do appear to significantly strengthen the rights of the tenant and I understand why that might make investors nervous. Buying and owning an investment property is a significant investment so any dilution of control around who and how that property is maintained is no small matter.

In practice I don’t feel the changes will dramatically impact the investor market. I think if similar reforms were introduced in NSW I think landlords would be anxious but I don’t envisage it would influence potential purchase decisions.

I think the main responsibility for the reforms will lie with property management teams. They already take on the task of identifying appropriate tenants that will be respectful of a property and supporting those tenants to ensure they feel respected and the property meets their needs.  As finalists in the 2018 NSW Real Estate Institute Awards for Excellence I think our Property Management team has been recognised for their commitment to service and systems that provide the best protection for both our tenants and landlords. 

If the wide-ranging reforms proposed in Victoria were to be adopted here then our team would work hard to identify new ways to continue to provide that quality service.