Changes to RTA now in force
Wednesday, 19 August 2020
The Government’s controversial tenancy law reforms are now law after the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2020 received Royal Assent on 11 August 2020.
By The Landlord
This means there will be a number of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 which will affect both tenants and landlords.
Tenancy Services is advising that some of these provisions took effect from 12 August 2020, while the remainder will come into force at two subsequent dates over the next year.
They have released the following timetable of when the various changes come into effect.
From 12 August 2020:
• Transitional and emergency housing are now exempt from the Act.
• Rent can only be increased once every 12 months.
From 11 February 2021:
• Security of rental tenure: Landlords will not be able to end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice. New termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods have changed.
• Changes for fixed-term tenancies: 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.
• Minor changes: 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.
• Rent bidding prohibited: 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).
• Fibre broadband: 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 and access to justice: 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.
• Landlord records: Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing will be an unlawful act and landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information.
• Enforcement measures strengthened: The Regulator (MBIE) will have new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.
• Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction changes: The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000 (which is up from $50,000).
Also, the provisions, which were introduced in a last-minute Supplementary Order Paper during the final debate over the legislation, must come into effect by 12 months after the day of Royal Assent (11 August 2021). However, they may come in earlier if the Government agrees.
Those provisions are that:
• A landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the police have charged the tenant with assault of the landlord, a member of the landlord’s family, or the landlord’s agent.
• A victim of family violence will be able to withdraw from a tenancy without financial penalty.
Tenancy Services has also updated its tenancy agreement template, which can be found here.
Further, Tenancy Services says it will be developing educational webinars and online decision tools. These will be highlighted on the Tenancy Services website as soon as they are available.
Additionally, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has information on the changes here.