Victoria rent crisis: At least 15 per cent of rental properties fail legal standards

RENTAL MARKET

Nine out of the 100 properties had visible mold in the study, while 39 agents were unable to provide a history of if the rental ever had mold.


Victorian families searching for affordable homes to rent are facing dud prospects that in many cases are failing to meet legal standards for rentals.

New research by Tenants Victoria and the Consumer Policy Research Center shows at least 15 per cent of rentals assessed breached the Residential Tenancies Act years after it was updated in 2021.

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The investigation sent undercover “mystery shoppers” to the open inspections of 100 rentals across Bendigo and Wyndham Vale. Nearly half (47 per cent) had four bedrooms and 31 of the properties to lease were offered for less than $390 a week.

28 of the properties had maintenance issues, nine had visible mold and 15 failed to meet the standards for heating.

39 real estate agents were unable to say if there had been a history of mold in the home for lease, while 24 agents could not offer electricity and gas compliance and safety check information.

Victoria’s minimum standards under the Act include the absence of mold or damp caused by the building structure, an energy efficient heater in the main living area and compliant electrical switchboards, circuit breakers and safety switches.

Ms Turner said the minimum standards didn’t go far enough for rentals.


Consumer Policy Research Center chief executive Erin Turner said the minimum standards didn’t go “far enough”.

She added that the study showed a rental provider could offer an affordable home and meet the minimum standards, but Consumer Affairs had a “real role” to help landlords and agents “decode” those requirements.

“The more we can make these obligations really clear, the easier it will be for everyone to comply,” she said.

Tenants Victoria chief executive Jennifer Beveridge said while the state had some of the strongest rental laws in the nation, too many homes to lease failed to meet “even basic standards” and lagged maintenance.

This comes as the number of available rentals in Melbourne has tightened even further, hitting a record low in January (1.15 per cent) with just over 7100 homes available to tenants.

Ms Flaherty said Victoria was the most difficult state to become a property investor in.


New PropTrack data revealed that the city had experienced the sharpest fall in available rentals of all the capital cities compared to January 2023, with the vacancy rate declining by 0.29 percentage points.

The latest Census data indicates there were 624,671 Victorian homes in the private rental market in 2021.

Contrasted to PropTrack’s most recent vacancy rate data, this would mean just 7184 rentals were available in January compared to 7371 in December.

PropTrack economist Anne Flaherty said many Victorian property investors and landlords were choosing to “sell up” which was impacting the state’s rental supply.

She added that Victoria was the most difficult state to be a property investor in, with the largest taxes placed on landlords and more compliance regulations.

“I think it’s going to remain a very challenging market to be a tenant,” she said.


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