On the 4th of August, the Government passed what were probably the most radical reforms around renting in New Zealand since the inception of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) back in 1986. This will change the face of renting in New Zealand as the level of compliance has increased for landlords whilst increasing the rights of tenants.
Probably the most controversial of the changes is the removal of the 90-day no-cause termination. Historically, a landlord was free to end a tenancy without giving the tenant a reason. Why is this so controversial?
Many landlords feel that this was an easy way to remove anti-social and problematic tenants without the ordeal of having to go to the Tenancy Tribunal. On the other hand, tenants often argue that they are afraid to raise issues with landlords in fear of retribution. If a tenant puts too many demands on a landlord, they may run the risk of being served notice and this means that many tenants put up with maintenance issues rather than complain. The reality is that tenants are protected under section 54 of the RTA which allows them to apply to Tribunal if the termination notice has been served as a retaliatory notice. There are significant fines under the RTA for such behaviour.
However, there is much more within the Amendment Bill that landlords need to be fully aware of.
- There are more exemplary damages meaning greater potential penalties for landlords for non-compliance.
- There are fines and infringement penalties which increase if you have six or more tenancies.
- Landlords are no longer going to be allowed to encourage or invite rent bidding
- Rent increases will be limited to once a year.
- Landlords will not be able to withhold requests from tenants to instal fixtures and fittings.
- There are changes to timeframes for giving notice, and landlords must have a valid reason to end a tenancy or apply to the Tribunal.
- Landlords must permit and facilitate the installation of fibre connections if it is possible to do so.
- If there is an anti-social tenant who you want to evict, you have to go through a rigorous process of proof through the Tribunal
- The amount of jurisdiction the Tribunal has is increasing. The Tribunal could make rulings on cases up to $50,000 but that will increase to $100,000. Previously, anything over $50,000 went directly to the District Court
- Successful parties in Tenancy Tribunal can now have their names suppressed
- The Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team have greater powers and landlords will have to increase the level of documentation that they have to retain if audited
On top of these changes, landlords currently need to get their rental properties ready so they are compliant with the Healthy Homes Standards; the first deadline is approaching in July 2021. In short, the rules have changed significantly and being a landlord has never been more complex.
In light of the changes that the rental sector is facing, Tommy’s Property Management will be launching a monthly webinar series to explain the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. We firmly believe that education is paramount to providing a successful service and as such, we are committed to ensuring that both landlords and tenants have a better understanding of their rights and obligations.
Our first webinar will be about the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill which will be hosted by our expert and General Manager David Faulkner. David will inform you about the changes occurring as a result of the Bill and then will be taking questions from webinar attendees.