Over the past year alone, a multitude of new laws affecting the rental industry have been rolled out. The Healthy Homes Standards are in full swing with compliance statements now required on all new, renewed and extended tenancy agreements. And, more recently, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (RTAA) was passed on 5 August 2020. In this blog, we look at six of the key changes from the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 and how they affect rental customers.
The purpose of the new legislation is to modernise the Act which was first passed in 1986, making it fit for current-day renting situations in New Zealand. The legislative changes aim to:
1. Fixed-term tenancies now convert to periodic tenancies at the end of their term
All fixed-term tenancy agreements entered into from 11 February 2021, will automatically become periodic tenancies at the end of their term. The few exceptions to this change include:
If you’re living in a rental property and have a fixed-term tenancy agreement that ends after 11 February 2021, the old Act will still apply and the agreement can be terminated in accordance with the current act.
2. Renters can request permission to make minor changes to the rental property
This change applies to all active tenancies from 11 February 2021, whether they are signed before, on or after the 11th. From this date, rental customers will be able to request permission to make changes to the property and owners may not decline if the proposed alteration is minor. These changes could look like:
This change empowers rental customers to make the property better fit their needs. However, it’s important to note that rental customers will be responsible for any costs associated with the installation and reversal of a minor change that they have requested at the end of their tenancy. Tenants requests must be in writing to the landlord and the landlord must respond within 21 days of the request.
3. Tenancy agreements can only be ended for specific reasons
Rental property owners will only be able to terminate periodic tenancies for specific reasons, as outlined in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act. These reasons include:
For more serious situations, tenancy agreements can also be terminated at the order of the Tenancy Tribunal. In this case, there are specific processes to follow before a tenancy agreement is ended.
For rental customers, this means more security and peace of mind, knowing that your tenure cannot come to an abrupt end without cause.
Hot tip: When applying for a property, ask the property owner if they have imminent plans to sell or carry out alterations. This way, you can be prepared if the tenancy ending is a likely scenario.
4. Rental customers can request to install fibre broadband
From 11 February 2021, rental customers can request to install fibre broadband. If it can be installed at no cost to them, property owners must agree. While there are some exceptions to this law, such as if the installation breaches a body corporate rule, this change increases accessibility to fibre broadband.
5. Rental increases are limited to once every twelve months
Since 12 August 2020, property owners are only able to increase rent once every twelve months. Again, this gives greater security for rental customers and helps to regulate rising rent costs.
6. Rental property owners cannot seek rental bids
Another change coming into play from 11 February 2021 is a restriction on advertising rental properties without listing a rental price. Property owners will also not be permitted to encourage bids for rent or organise rental auctions.
This change was introduced as a result of highly competitive local rental markets which saw some applicants offering to pay more. The law protects applicants from having high demand and short housing supply leveraged against them.
There are a couple of things you can do as a rental customer if you believe that your property owner/manager is not acting in accordance with the Act. We’ve outlined our top tips below:
Are you looking for a rental property? Check out our listings on quinovic.co.nz/rentals to see our available properties in your area.
This article is a summary of six of the key changes from the RTAA. However, we do recommend gaining a more comprehensive understanding of the legislation. This fact sheet provided by Tenancy Services is a great resource to get you started. For questions about how this will impact you directly, get in touch with your local Quinovic office.
Sign up to our newsletters to stay in the loop with new content and news.