New rental laws in Victoria - electrical changes that may apply to you.
14 September 2021
O'Brien Electrical Rowville
In 29 March 2021 new changes to rental laws were introduced in Victoria to expand the rights and responsibilities of renters and rental providers (landlords) in order to make renting in Victoria fairer and safer.
We have collated the below information from the Consumer Affairs Victoria website that relates to anything electrical. Whether you are a renter or a landlord, it is important to know what obligations you are under when it comes to your electricity. Please note that this summary does not cover the full extent of these changes to the rental laws. To read the comprehensive list and full legislative details please visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
Rental minimum standards
Under the new rental laws, rental providers (landlords) must ensure that their rental property meets certain minimum standards. This applies to rental agreements that started from 29 March 2021 (if started earlier this still applies to you if your agreements rolls on after 29 March 2021).
Before signing a new lease, we recommend you look out for the below installations during the house inspection. If you’re unsure if the minimum standards have been met, ask the property manager for full discloser and confirmation from the landlord.
Interior rooms and corridors must have appropriate access to light. It can be natural or artificial. Any habitable rooms (such as a bedroom, living room or study) must have access to natural light and artificial light.
For heating these changes are coming in a phased approach over a 3 year period:
- From 29 March 2021, a fixed heater in the main living area will be required for all rented premises including Class 1 properties (attached and detached houses) and Class 2 properties (multi-unit residential buildings)
- If a fixed heater in the main living area has not been installed, an energy-efficient heater (2 star minimum) must be installed
- From 29 March 2023, an energy-efficient fixed heater (minimum 2 star rated) in the main living area will be required for all rented premises
- If the rental property is in a class 2 building (apartment block) and it is not feasible to install an energy-efficient heater, (e.g. due to Owner’s Corporation rules or excessive costs), then the energy efficiency requirement does not apply, but a fixed heater is still required.
From 29 March 2023, all rental properties must have electrical safety switches installed. Although this doesn’t apply now, it’s good to be informed of this requirement for the future.
What if the rental property doesn’t meet the minimum standards?
If the rental property does not meet the minimum standards, the renter can end the rental agreement before they move in. Renters can also request an urgent repair to make the rental property meet the minimum standards at any time after they move in.
Under the new laws, urgent repairs now include repairs or replacements relating to air conditioning, safety devices and any fault or damage which makes the property unsafe or insecure. Below are some updates to be aware of when it comes to electricity:
Liability for utility charges for non-compliant energy efficient replacement appliances
The rental provider is responsible for the cost of supplying electricity to the rented premises if they are in breach of their duty to replace an electrical appliance with a replacement that has an equal or greater energy efficiency rating.
Rental provider must pay renter back for cost of urgent repairs within 7 days
If urgent repairs took place and the renter has provided written notice of the reasonable cost of these repairs (or replacement if the fault cannot be repaired), the landlord must pay back renters within seven days.
To provide some context for the above change – if there is a dangerous electrical fault the rental provider would be expected to arrange for a qualified electrician to fix the fault within 24 hours of being notified. However if a renter determines that the situation is ‘highly urgent’ and the rental provider is taking too long to make the situation safe, the renter may arrange for urgent repairs themselves via a qualified technician.
Modifications to rented property
Under the new rental laws, renters can make certain modifications to their homes without the consent of the rental provider. All modifications need to be reversed at the end of the rental agreement, unless otherwise agreed with the rental provider.
For rented premises that are not listed under the Heritage Act 2017 (this must be disclosed before signing the rental agreement), renters can make the following modifications without needing the rental provider’s consent. We have listed all modifications not just limited to electrical changes for your information:
- picture hooks or screws for wall mounts, shelves or brackets on surfaces other than brick walls,
- wall anchoring devices on surfaces other than brick walls to secure items of furniture,
- LED light globes which do not require new light fittings,
- low flow shower heads if the original shower head is kept,
- blind or cord anchors,
- hardware mounted child safety gates on walls other than brick walls,
- security lights, alarm systems or security cameras that:
- do not impact on the privacy of neighbours,
- can easily be removed from the rented premises, and
- are not hardwired to the rented premises.
For all other modifications, the renter must get the rental provider’s permission before starting the work.
Can a rental provider impose conditions for approval of a modification?
Yes. As a condition of their consent, the rental provider may require that the modification be completed by a suitably qualified person (for example, a licensed electrician).
Records of electrical safety checks
The rental provider must ensure that an electrical safety check of all electrical installations, appliances and fittings provided by them is conducted every 2 years, using a licensed or registered electrician. The rental provider should keep records of these checks and must provide the renter with the date of the most recent safety check, in writing, if requested by the renter.
Excessive utility bills
Where a renter has received an excessive utility bill attributable to a hidden fault, the rental provider must pay for the costs that exceed the renter’s ordinary usage amounts.
To read about all the new changes in the rental laws and for further information please visit the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.
O'Brien Electrical Rowville – (03) 8520 9555