New minimum standards apply for electrical safety in Victorian rental properties from March 2023. Renters will have new rights and rental providers may be penalised for non-compliance.
What are the new minimum standards?
Minimum standards for safety and liveability apply to all rental properties in Victoria. New standards for electrical safety have recently been defined and will apply legally from March 29, 2023.
After that date, all power outlets and lighting circuits in a rental property must be connected to:
- A circuit breaker that complies with AS/NZS 3000 for wiring, and
- A residual current device that complies with AS/NZS 3190 or AS/NZS 61008.1 or AS/NZS 61009.1.
Renters have the right to ensure minimum standards are met. Rental providers who fail to meet minimum standards or carry out upgrades when requested could be penalised.
Why circuit breakers AND RCDs?
The new standards specify that switchboards in rental properties must be fitted with both circuit breakers and a residual current device (RCD). Both devices play an essential role in home safety.
Basically, circuit breakers protect the electrical system and RCDs protect people. Circuit breakers detect overloads and cut the power to prevent damage to wiring. RCDs detect current imbalance caused by current flowing somewhere it shouldn’t (like into a person) and cut the power to prevent electrocution.
Many homes still aren’t fitted with RCDs, which is why it’s important to arrange regular electrical safety maintenance to make sure that properties continue to meet minimum standards.
What if the upgrades aren’t done?
As of March 2021, renters have new rights to insist that the property they’re renting meets minimum standards.
The rental provider must make sure the property complies with minimum standards on or before the day the renter gets the keys. If the property doesn’t comply, the renter has the right to:
- end their lease agreement without notice or fees before they move in, or
- move in anyway, and immediately request an upgrade as an urgent repair.
This means that renters will be able to terminate a lease agreement or request an urgent upgrade if the property’s switchboard isn’t fitted with a circuit breaker and an RCD. Rental providers can also be penalised for failing to meet minimum standards.