Residential Tenancies Act Amendments Webinar – 10 February 2021
Welcome to the webinar on the Residential Tenancies Act Amendments which come into effect from 11 February 2021.
Toni Heath, and Jessie Wu, our Business Development Managers, give an overview on some of the amendments, you can view the presentation above, or read some of the main points below.
The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) reforms became law on 11 August 2020 with passage of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2020.
The reforms modernise New Zealand’s rental laws and align them with present day realities of renting in New Zealand.
The commencement dates for these law changes are in three phases as outlined below:
PHASE 1 – Effective 12 August 2020
Rent can only be increased every 12 months
- From 12 August 2020, rent increases are limited to once every 12 months. This is a change from once every 180 days (six months).
- Any rent increase notices given to tenants from 12 August 2020 must comply with the new 12-month rule.
PHASE 2 – Effective 11 February 2021
Security of rental term – $6500 fine
- Landlords will not be able to end a periodic tenancy without cause.
- New termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods will change.
- 63 days’ notice needed if: The owner or a member of the owner’s family requires property as principal place of residence; landlord’s employees / contractors require occupation of the property
- 90 days’ notice needed if: Property is to be sold, extensive renovations to take place, premises to be converted to commercial use or demolished
Fixed term tenancies (auto periodic)
- All fixed-term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless:
- the parties agree otherwise,
- the tenant gives a 28-day notice,
- or the landlord gives notice in accordance with the termination grounds for periodic tenancies.
- Tenants must receive 3 written notices over a 90 day period before application can be made to tenancy tribunal for termination.
Minor changes (cannot deny permission) – $1500 fine
- Tenants can ask to make changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor.
- Landlords must respond to a tenant’s request to make a change within 21 days.
- The act defines a minor change as any fixture, renovation, alteration or addition to the rental property that is:
- Low risk and won’t cause material damage
- Is easily returned to the same condition
- Doesn’t pose a health and safety risk
- Doesn’t compromise the structural integrity, weather tightness or character of the premises
- Wouldn’t negatively affect the neighbours
- Doesn’t require building or resource consent
- It is the tenant’s responsibility to return the property back to its original state at the end of the tenancy, such minor changes may include installing a pet door or hanging a TV on the wall.
Prohibition on rental bidding
- Rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, this includes any rent signs outside of a property.
- Landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental (pay more than the advertised rent amount).
Fibre broadband (cannot deny no cost) – $1500 fine
- Tenants can request to install fibre broadband, and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them, unless specific exemptions apply.
Privacy (name suppression if tribunal won)
- A suppression order can remove names and identifying details from published Tenancy Tribunal decisions if a party who has applied for a suppression order is wholly or substantially successful, or if this is in the interests of the parties and the public interest.
Assignment of tenancies
- All requests to assign a tenancy must be considered. Landlords cannot decline unreasonably. If a residential tenancy agreement prohibits assignment, it is of no effect.
- An assignment of tenancy is the transfer of tenancy between the current tenant and the replacement tenant – it is not swopping tenants because they are jointly / severally bound in contract, and is an assignment of rent and tenancy obligations to the replacement tenant.
Landlord records (tenant copies, audits) – $750 fine
- Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing will be an unlawful act and landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information.
- Records include Tenancy agreements, variations, inspection reports, maintenance, compliance, advertising, correspondence and rent/bond records.
Enforcement and Tribunal Jurisdiction
- Enforcement measures of tribunal outcomes have been strengthened – The Regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) will have new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.
- This is particular for ‘Large Landlords’ – The act defines a large landlord as one that has either 6 or more rental properties, or a boarding house. People that are connected via marriage, partnership (domestic / business), company directors are considered a single unit, with each individual in that unit seen as a ‘Large Landlord’.
- Changes to Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction – The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000. This is a change from $50,000.
PHASE 3 – (currently developing regulations, date was 11 August 2020 but may change)
Tenancies can be terminated if family violence or landlord assault has occurred
- Family violence: tenants experiencing family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy without financial penalty.
- Physical assault: a landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of the assault.
For more information please visit the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development website here or the Tenancy Services website here.
We will be hosting more webinars in future so be sure to check your inbox, or our socials to get the next invitation.
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