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The information in this Fact Sheet is not legal advice. It is intended as a general guide only. It applies only to legislation current in the state of Victoria, Australia. For information regarding a specific tenancy problem, phone the Tenants Union Advice Line on (03) 9416 2577. The Tenants Union accepts no responsibility for actions based on this information, nor for actions based on electronic translations of this information.
The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 states that you have a right to 'quiet enjoyment' of your rental property. The landlord, agent or anyone acting on their behalf (eg tradespeople) do have some rights of entry, but they must meet with certain requirements. If they don't meet with these requirements, you don't have to let them into your home.
Rights of entry
The landlord or agent may only enter your premises when:
If the landlord or agent wants to enter your home, they must:
The landlord, agent or tradesperson may also enter the premises if you have agreed to the entry within the last 7 days.
If they have given proper notice, you have a duty to permit the landlord, agent or tradesperson to enter the premises, even if the time doesn't suit you or you won't be home. However you may be able to negotiate a time that will suit you better (see The Landlord is Selling Fact Sheet for more information.) The person entering your home must behave in a reasonable manner and they must leave as soon as they have finished what they came for.
Unless the agent or landlord follows the correct procedures, it is an offence for them to enter your premises without a reasonable excuse. (See the Complaints about Landlords & Agents Fact Sheet for more information.)
If your property is damaged during the entry, the landlord or agent may be held responsible. See the Claiming Compensation Fact Sheet for more information.
If your landlord or agent has not met with the notice requirements, or has been making frequent or harassing visits, you can apply to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for a Restraining Order. This also applies to harassing phone calls or letters, as these are also a breach of your right to quiet enjoyment. A Restraining Order can prohibit or restrict the landlord or agent from entering the premises or contacting you, and it can be enforced by the police. It is a serious offence for the landlord or agent to breach a Restraining Order and they can be fined.
If the landlord or agent's harassing behaviour is persistent, you may wish to end your tenancy and move out. If you don't have a fixed-term tenancy agreement, you can simply give 28 days written notice and move out. If you are posting the notice, use registered or certified mail and allow 2 full business days for delivery.
If you do have a fixed-term tenancy agreement you will need to serve the landlord with a 14-day Breach of Duty Notice. You can then apply for a Compliance Order from the Tribunal. If they still don't stop the harassment, you can serve a 14-day Notice of Intention to Vacate. However if the landlord does stop harassing you during this period, your notices may cease to have effect. (See the When you want to Leave Fact Sheet for more information.) You should seek advice from the Tenants Union or another tenant advice service before taking this course of action.
You may also be eligible for compensation for any loss, inconvenience or damage caused by the landlord or agent's failure to respect your privacy, or for any loss or damage caused during inspections. See the Claiming Compensation Fact Sheet for more information.
If you change any lock on the property, you must give the landlord a copy of the key. We don't recommend that you change the locks in order to protect your privacy. If you refuse to give the landlord a key, they can serve you with a Breach of Duty Notice.
If the landlord refuses to respect your privacy, you should apply for a Restraining Order rather than change the locks.
You must not change any lock that is part of a master key system (where there is one master key which fits several locks, such as all the doors in one block of flats) without first getting the landlord's consent. If the landlord disagrees to the lock change without good reason, you can apply to the Tribunal for an order that you be allowed to change the lock without their consent.
It is illegal for the landlord to lock you out of the property unless they have obtained a Warrant of Possession and had it carried out by the police. If you have been locked out illegally you should apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing to be let back into the property. At the same time, you should apply for a Restraining Order preventing the landlord from locking you out again. (See the Eviction Fact Sheet for more information.)
If you have had extra costs such as food, transport or accommodation costs as a result of being locked out illegally, you may be entitled to compensation. See the Claiming Compensation Fact Sheet or contact the Tenants Union or another tenant advice service for more information.
With recent changes to the privacy law and the introduction of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000, estate agents now have more restrictions on them when it comes to using your personal information. (Not all agents will be bound by these restrictions. Businesses with an annual turnover of $3 million or less will generally be exempt.)
The new privacy restrictions mean that businesses, including real estate agents:
All estate agents in Victoria are bound by the Estate Agents (Professional Conduct) Rules 1997, which also prohibit them from sharing your confidential information. If you have any complaints about the way that your personal information is being used, contact the Federal Privacy Commissioner on 1300 363 992 or make a written complaint to Consumer Affairs Victoria or the Real Estate Institute of Victoria. For more information see the Tenant databases and Complaints about Landlords & Agents Fact Sheets.
For more information contact the Tenants Union Advice Line on (03) 9416 2577.
PO Box 234, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia
Admin 9419 5577
Advice 9416 2577
Fax 9416 0513
Last updated 20 October 2003
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