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New taskforce set to stamp out ‘dodgy’ Victorian rentals

By Juliet Helmke
22 March 2024 | 11 minute read
gabrielle williams victoria reb ntzyxt

Aiming to send “a clear message to rental providers”, the state is putting $4 million into a team to crack down on those breaking tenancy laws.

Embedded in Consumer Affairs Victoria, the body will set its sights on the conduct of anyone managing rental properties – whether landlords or managers employed to oversee tenancies.

It will employ a cadre of intelligence analysts, inspectors, investigators and lawyers, and is reportedly set to be modelled after the state’s underquoting taskforce, which has been in effect since September 2022.

Having passed more than 130 rental reform measures in 2021, the state is framing this new group as a way of cracking down on rental providers who are trying to get away with conduct that circumvents its laws meant to strengthen tenants’ rights.

In announcing the new team, the state’s minister for consumer affairs, Gabrielle Williams, said it would target offences like false advertising, renting out properties that don’t meet minimum standards, and not lodging bonds.

The state announced that $4 million has been apportioned to setting up the group, with operations to scale up through 2024.

Initially, the taskforce will focus on targeted inspections of reported breaches to ensure that minimum property standards are met.

In Victoria, rental minimum standards include necessary elements like a functional kitchen, lockable external doors, and that the dwelling is structurally sound and waterproof.


Allowing a new renter to inhabit a rental property that doesn’t meet these standards is a criminal offence under the state’s law, with maximum penalties of over $11,000 for individuals and over $57,000 for companies.

The group will also reportedly work on improving its consumer reporting system so that breaches can be easily flagged by members of the public, with a streamlined system for providing evidence.

Though the state passed a wide range of rental reforms three years ago, more adjustments to its laws are on the way with the government planning to ban rental bidding, restrict rent increases between successive fixed-term agreements, and extend the notice periods to vacate to 90 days as announced in its September 2023 housing statement.

As those changes come to pass, they will also fall under the purview of the renting taskforce.

Acknowledging that there are many honest rental providers across the state who operate in accordance with the law, Williams said that the state nonetheless saw the need to take a tougher stance on rule breakers.

“Most rental providers and estate agents do the right thing – today’s announcement is about sending a clear message to those trying to get away with rental offences,” she said.

“It’s been almost three years since our landmark package of over 130 rental reforms took effect, and today we are making the rental market fairer for everyone by establishing the renting taskforce,” Williams added.


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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