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Housing - English

Support and information about housing for renters and landlords.

These pages provide an English version of content we have on language pages.

If you need more help in your language, you can call TIS National on 131 450 and ask for an interpreter, then ask to be connected to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 338 663.

Coronavirus and renting rights

May 2020

New laws will help tenants facing eviction if you can’t pay rent because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The laws apply for six months from 29 March 2020 for any tenant or sub-tenant in most properties. If you were given a Notice to Vacate from this date, it does not apply.

The landlord can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to evict you for limited reasons including if you damage or use the property for criminal activity, or if the landlord wants to move back in.

1. What should I do if I can’t pay my rent?

Prepare information to help negotiate with your landlord.

You need to know:

  • How much income you will have from work and any government support, and how long this income will last.
  • If you qualify for the Government’s rent relief grant.
  • What savings you have.
  • Your important spending - for example, food, clothing, medical needs, bills, or vehicle expenses.

Be clear on how much rent you can afford. Paying more than 30 per cent of your income in rent is very high.

When you are prepared, contact your landlord or property manager to ask for a rent reduction.

Tenants Victoria has example rent reduction letters to real estate agents.

2. How do I negotiate a rent reduction?

Provide evidence to help the landlord understand your request - for example a job termination letter or application for Centrelink payments.

Consider your landlord’s situation too. Either agree to the landlord’s proposed rent or make a reasonable offer.

The agreement is only about rent, you still have all your other rights under your lease.

The agreement must include:

  • Tenant’s names
  • Landlord’s names
  • Property address
  • Usual rent amount
  • New agreed rent amount
  • Agreement expiry date.

If you do not have template for agreements, you can use our Temporary rent reduction agreement.

When you have reached an agreement, register it with us.

3. What if we can’t agree?

If you cannot agree, call us on 1300 55 81 81 between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (except public holidays).

We will work with you and the landlord to help reach an agreement. We will use the information you provide to find an outcome that is fair for everyone.

International students affected by the coronavirus travel ban

This information is for students who are unable to travel to Victoria and need to cancel their rental accommodation before moving in, or change the date of moving in.

If you have a lease and want to keep your current accommodation arrangements as they are, your usual rights and responsibilities as a tenant will apply. See Your renting rights.

There is related information for property managers on our Leases and bonds – information for property managers page.

If you have signed a tenancy agreement (also called a lease)

You can change or cancel the lease if your landlord or agent agrees. Make sure you get their agreement in writing. 

If you cancel and:

  • you paid any rent in advance, you may be able to negotiate a refund or partial refund with your landlord or agent
  • you paid a bond, the landlord or agent should tell the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority (RTBA) to pay this back to you. If they do not, contact the RTBA.

If you cannot reach an agreement with the landlord or agent, either you or they can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to end the lease due to severe hardship.

If you have paid a bond or rent in advance, but not signed a lease

This may be considered a verbal lease. You can change or cancel it if your landlord or agent agrees. Make sure you get their agreement in writing. 

If you cancel and:

  • you paid any rent in advance, you may be able to negotiate a refund or partial refund with your landlord or agent 
  • you paid a bond, the landlord or agent should tell the RTBA to pay this back to you. If they do not, contact the RTBA.

If you cannot reach an agreement with the landlord or agent, either you or they can apply to VCAT to end the lease due to severe hardship.

If you have not signed a lease or paid any money

You can cancel the rental arrangement by telling the landlord or agent. You do not have to pay any money.

If you have booked homestay accommodation

Homestay arrangements are not covered by renting laws. For information on your rights, view our Contracts section.

If you booked homestay accommodation through your college or university, contact them about changing or cancelling the arrangement.

Reviewed 09 February 2021

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Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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