The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 has delivered some of the most significant updates to rental regulations in decades. While some changes are already in effect, phase two reforms came into force February 11th, 2021.
Landlords and tenants need to understand the recent changes to tenancy laws and how it will affect them. Here is an overview of the new laws and what you need to know.
The end of the ‘no clause’ termination
Under this new law, landlords must provide a reason to the tenant to end a periodic tenancy and can no longer issue a 90 day “no cause” notice. New termination grounds are available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods have also changed.
If the owner or member of the owner’s family is moving into the property, 63 days’ notice must be given (up from 42 days). 90 days’ notice to terminate (up from 42 days) must be given if the owner is selling the property, carrying out extensive renovations, demolishing the property or changing it to a commercial premise.
Landlords can also apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end tenancies in the case of repeated antisocial behaviour by the tenant or if rent is unpaid for 21 days or more.
Changes for fixed-term tenancies
All fixed term tenancies will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term, unless the parties agree otherwise.
A tenant would need to provide 28 days to a landlord to terminate and a landlord would need give notice using one of the specified reasons listed in the Residential Tenancies Act for terminating a periodic tenancy.
Minor alterations to the property cannot be refused
Tenants can request to make minor changes to the property such as hanging pictures, earthquake or baby proofing and these requests cannot be declined if the change is minor. The landlord has 21 days to respond to the tenant’s request.
The tenant is responsible for any costs associated with the installation and reversal of minor changes that they request.
An end to rental bidding
Rental properties must be advertised with a rental price listed and landlords cannot encourage or ask tenants to bid on a rental.
Prospective tenants or any other person can still voluntarily offer to pay more than the stated amount of rent and a landlord may accept this offer.
Requests from tenants to install fibre broadband must not be declined by landlords, provided it can be installed at no cost to them.
Tenancy Tribunal updates
Both the landlords and tenants can apply for a name suppression if they are successful in a Tenancy Tribunal decision.
The Tenancy Tribunal will be able to hear claims up to the value of $100,000, Previously, this number was $50,000.
Assignment of tenancies
If a tenant requests to reassign a tenancy, it must be considered, and landlords cannot decline a request unreasonably.
Landlords must supply a tenancy agreement in writing
Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing is an unlawful act and landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information.
There have been lots of law changes and further regulations will come into effect under phase three later this year. To read more about any of the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, please visit the Tenancy Services website: www.tenancy.govt.nz/law-changes/
If you would like guidance around residential tenancy laws or anything else rental-related, please get in touch and we can have someone from our experienced team help ensure your questions are answered.