Photo : Kirsten Drew / Unsplash
The Residential Tenancies Act now includes all the phase two amendments that came into effect on 11 February 2021. These are probably the most far reaching tenancy changes to come into law in recent years, and it's imperative that they are understood and applied correctly.
Additionally, there is a substantive increase in fines for failing to comply with the Act and a substantive increase in the number of compliance requirements you could be fined for.
There are 10 major changes to the Act;
- Landlords are unable to end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice. Periodic tenancy termination reasons and notice periods vary. This handy decision pathway tool from Tenancy Services is a helpful guide on allowable reasons for termination and notice periods.
- Fixed-term tenancies signed on or after 11 February 2021 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 are able to request permission to make changes to the property and owners may not decline if the proposed alteration is minor. Landlords must respond to a tenant’s request to make a change within 21 days.
- Rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental (pay more than the advertised rent amount).
- Tenants can request, in writing, to install fibre broadband, and landlords must agree to it (if it can be installed at no cost to them), unless specific exemptions apply.
- Tenants and landlords can apply for their personal details to be removed from Tenancy Tribunal records (if they have been partly or entirely successful in their Tribunal hearing). This is called a suppression order, and can also be put in place separately by the Tribunal itself.
- A tenant can make a written request at any time to assign their tenancy to someone else. The landlord must consider all requests and not decline unreasonably. Where the tenant has included the details of the person they propose to take over the tenancy, the landlord must respond to the request in writing within a reasonable time period.
- A landlord must provide a signed tenancy agreement, including all the necessary information, in writing to a tenant. Landlords are also required to keep and provide additional records about the property, including healthy homes standards information and maintenance records.
- The Regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) has four new enforcement measures that can be used to take action against parties who are not complying with the regulations. From 11 February 2021, new unlawful acts for tenants and landlords will take effect. Existing unlawful acts will have increased penalties.
- The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000 (previously $50,000). The Tribunal will also have the authority to order landlords of six or more tenancies (or a boarding house) to pay fines up to a maximum of $50,000 for serious breaches.
For more detailed information regarding the changes, download our ebook, or visit www.tenancy.govt.nz
If you are needing assistance navigating these changes, or would like one of our property management experts to assist you - please get in touch. We're here to help.