Are you a landlord in Victoria? Let us help you find the right cover with our guide to landlord insurance for VIC.
It wouldn't be hard to believe that the term "four seasons in a day" was coined in Victoria. From beautiful sunshine to heatwaves and bushfires, crisp winters to raging storms, Victorian weather can both delight and destroy. As a landlord, you not only need to worry about this, but also vandalism, damage, tenant default and public liability. Landlord insurance can help. Read on for our full breakdown of what's on offer and how to get the best from your cover.
Need landlord insurance for VIC?
What does landlord insurance cover me for?
Landlord insurance is available in three cover options:
- Home insurance. Also known as building-only cover, home insurance protects your home and other fixtures on your property against damage from fires, storms, theft and vandalism. Policies usually provides additional protection against loss of rent or damage to shared areas such as pools and gardens.
- Contents insurance. Contents Insurance offers cover for any of your household possessions, as well as other property you have on site, against the same risks as home insurance. Additional extras are usually available for communal items like pool equipment or outdoor furniture.
- Home and contents insurance. Offering total protection for your property and everything inside, this is the most comprehensive level of cover available to landlords and includes optional cover for both rental default and damage or loss caused by tenants or their guests.
Is landlord insurance compulsory in VIC?
It isn't mandatory to have landlord insurance in Victoria, though as a landlord you carry the financial burden of any loss or damage to your home and contents, and are liable for injury or death on your property. As well as this, you're also responsible for setting and adhering to lease terms and collecting bond (typically four weeks' rent) and rent for the property. Landlord insurance can protect you against these financial burdens and offers legal liability for such incidents.
How do I choose a landlord insurance policy?
Before you purchase a policy, ask yourself: which is more important, cover or value? The more comprehensive your cover, the higher your premiums will be. If you're in a city, be it Melbourne or Bendigo, you may be more worried about theft of your contents than you are about damage to the building. Or maybe you're living in serenity in Bonnie Doon and are more concerned with what the weather holds, in which case you'll want to check and see if your policy covers events such as fire and floods. Be sure to discuss specific terms and conditions with your insurance provider to ensure it's right for you.
Who offers landlord insurance in Victoria?
Australian home insurance providers usually aren't state-specific, which means homeowners in Victoria can access an extensive range of insurance offers from trusted brands, such as:
What does a Victorian landlord need to know?
While landlord insurance is almost the same no matter what state you're in, the rules are slightly different from state to state. As a landlord in VIC, you need to know the following:
- Bond and advance rent. You can request a bond equal to one month's rent if you rent the place for less than $350 per week. You can also ask for a 14-day advance rent payment if rent is paid weekly, or a one-month advance rent payment if the rent is paid monthly. If the rent is higher than $350, you can ask for whatever bond you want and ask for advance payment of up to five years.
- Rent increases. You cannot increase the rent in the middle of a fixed-term lease unless the contract states that you can. Otherwise, you can increase rent once every six months with a 60-day notice.
- Ending a tenancy. You can't end a fixed-term lease until the lease is up and you have to give your tenants a notice prior to that if you want them out (60 days for a lease of six months or less, 90 days for a longer one). If the tenant is on a periodic lease, you have to give them a 120-day notice. These can be shortened if you have a good reason (like selling the property) and any fixed-term lease has ended or is about to end.
- Pets. Tenants have the upper hand in Victoria. Although they need your written permission to keep a pet in your property, you can't refuse it without approval from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
- Access for inspections. In Victoria, you're only allowed one inspection every six months, but a 24-hour written notice is all you'll need to give the tenant prior to inspection. You can't do an inspection within the first three months of tenancy.
Landlord responsibilities in VIC
Providing an apartment, house or property for your tenant that is free of hazards and defects, is fit to live in and complies with all state and local building and health codes, is the main responsibility of a landlord. But it doesn't end there. You required to take all necessary measures meet these standards before you can lease it. Securing a bond from your tenant and submitting it to the Residential Tenancies Bond Authority is also on your shoulders. Other responsibilities include:
- Maintaining structural components and a reasonably weather-protected unit
- Providing the necessary heat, electric and hot and cold water facilities
- Making any requested repairs promptly
- Inspecting the property each time it's leased to determine whether or not it meets safety and adequate living standards
- Giving notice before entering a rental unit, except in cases of emergency
- Abiding by all agreements made in the signed lease
- Providing 60 days' written notice of any changes to a month-to-month agreement
- Adhering to the legal eviction process if evicting a tenant
- Advising your tenant of their legal rights and responsibilities when taking out a lease
Landlord rights in Victoria
If a tenant has broken the conditions of the lease, or you have given adequate notice, you are legally allowed to evict a tenant. You also have the right as a landlord to increase rent or the length of the lease, provided you've given enough notice, though the tenant can opt out of the lease if they disagree with the changes. Upon your tenant vacating, you can withhold the bond until you've completed any repairs or cleaning services that may be needed.