Residential Tenancy Databases

For real estate agents and landlords, Residential Tenancy Databases are important resources for screening prospective tenants. However, despite their usefulness for landlords, these databases, which are run by private companies, were developed without a strong regard for tenants' rights.    

In May 2005, the Tenants Union of Victoria (TUV) approached the Commission to discuss the operation of residential tenancy databases in Victoria. The TUV was concerned about a number of recurring problems for tenants, including the lack of dispute resolution processes, the inability to correct listing errors, the duration of listings, the disproportionate effect upon vulnerable tenants, and discrimination.

During its inquiry, the Commission received a number of submissions from housing, real estate and tenancy bodies, and also consulted with database operators and other stakeholders.   

Released in April 2006, the Commission’s report concluded that residential databases lacked sufficient regulation to protect the rights of tenants. The report recommended changes to how residential tenancy databases function and made general recommendations for their regulation.

Implementation

At the time the Commission was conducting its review, a national review of residential tenancy databases was being conducted by a joint working group of the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs and the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The national review released its report in October 2006. Many of the recommendations in the national review were influenced by the Commission’s report.

The first recommendation of the Commission’s report was that the regulation of residential databases should be consistent across Australia. This was also a key recommendation from the national review. In 2010 national model legislation was adopted by the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs. In August 2010, the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act was amended to incorporate the national model legislation on residential tenancy databases. 

Community Law Reform Projects are conducted in accordance with section 5(1)(b) of the Victorian Law Reform Commission Act 2000 (Vic), which empowers the Commission to initiate inquiries of general community concern, provided they are limited in size and scope. More about Community Law Reform can be found here.

Residential tenancy Databases Report

Published in April 2006, the Commission's Residential Tenancy Databases Report provides 28 recommendations to improve the use of databases for...

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Residential Tenancy Databases: Recommendations

Published in April 2006, the Commission's Residential Tenancy Databases Report made 28 recommendations to ensure that the screening of prospective...

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