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Vic cracks down on dodgy landlords, agents

Dodgy Victorian landlords and real estate agents risk being put on a blacklist under state government reforms aimed at giving tenants more rights.

Premier Daniel Andrews says the changes will also prevent blanket bans on pets in rentals, establish a commissioner for residential tenancies, ban rent bidding, and force landlords to disclose to potential tenants plans to sell or the presence of asbestos.

"For too long we've had an imbalance and things have not been as fair as they should be," he told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

"The landlord and the agent have all the power and given how tight the market is, the tenant can't speak out and has no voice."

Under the changes to be introduced next year, renters will have access to a landlord and real estate agent blacklist, and landlords won't be able to refuse animals except under "certain circumstances", which have not been spelt out.

Landlords will also no longer be able to evict tenants for no specified reason, rent cannot go up more than once a year, long-term leases will be introduced, and it will be easier for tenants to make minor modifications to properties, such as installing hooks to hang pictures.

The government has also promised a crack down on the "scourge" of rent bidding, but Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz says potential renters will still be able to offer additional money to secure a place.

"Real estate agents will be prohibited from advertising a range for the rental price ... they have to advertise the exact amount," she said.

"If a renter really wants a property and is prepared to pay an extra $10 a week, they (agents) will be able to accept that but they're not able to solicit extra money."

Mr Andrews also flagged additional reforms once a review of the Residential Tenancies Act was complete.

But the Real Estate Institute of Victoria was critical of the government's plan, which it said would "significantly imbalance the market in favour of tenants".

"All landlords should reconsider whether they want to remain in the private rental market given their rights are being eroded," REIV chief executive Gil King said in a statement.

The Victorian Council of Social Service said the suite of reforms was particularly important given increasing numbers of lifelong renters.

RSPCA Victoria said making it easier to tenants to keep their pets could significantly reduce the number of dogs and cats surrendered to shelters.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said while some of the proposed changes were necessary, the government needed to make additional housing stock available so more people could buy rather than rent.

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