Note to readers: the article below does not constitute legal advice, hence we recommend contacting Tenancy Services should you require specific assistance.

The second phase of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) reforms is just around the corner.

Designed to modernise New Zealand’s tenancy laws, the RTA reforms aim to improve tenants’ security while rebalancing the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords. The new legislation, which includes more than 100 changes, comes into effect on February 11.

Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, it’s important to have a good understanding of how the changes will affect you. To help you stay on top of the reforms, our rental property management team has rounded up some of the biggest changes.

Changes to fixed-term tenancies

Fixed-term tenancies that were signed prior to February 11 will continue to be subject to the former rules of the RTA. Landlords will be able to end these tenancies without giving a reason, provided they give between 90 and 21 days’ notice before the end of the fixed term.

Fixed-term tenancies convert to periodic tenancies

With the new RTA laws, landlords will no longer have the right to issue no-cause terminations. All fixed-term tenancy agreements of more than 90 days that are signed after February 11 will convert to periodic tenancies upon expiry unless:

  • The tenant gives notice a minimum 28 days’ before the end of the tenancy.
  • Both the tenant and landlord agree otherwise (e.g. to renew the fixed-term agreement or end the tenancy).
  • The landlord gives notice according to the new termination grounds that apply to periodic tenancies.

Ending a fixed-term tenancy

  • Tenants who wish to end their tenancy at the end of the agreed fixed term will be required to give the landlord a minimum of 28 days’ notice before the end of the initial term.
  • Landlords will only be able to end the tenancy at the end of the fixed term if the termination grounds used for periodic tenancies apply. Termination grounds include: the owner or the owner’s family requires the property to live in (63 days’ notice); the owner intends to sell, extensively renovate or demolish the property (90 days’ notice).

Renewing a fixed-term tenancy

  • Tenants who wish to renew their tenancy for an additional fixed term will have to come to an agreement with the landlord.
  • Landlords that do not want to move to a periodic tenancy can ask the tenant if they wish to extend or renew the fixed-term agreement. However, if the landlord and the tenant can’t reach an agreement, and the tenant doesn’t give notice to end the tenancy, then the tenancy will continue as a periodic tenancy.

Other changes that take effect from 11 February 2021

In addition to the changes to fixed-term tenancies, the RTA reform includes dozens of other amendments that could impact you, such as:

  • Landlords must give tenants permission (this needs to be requested) to make minor changes to the property except in special circumstances (the tenant will be responsible for any remedial work).
  • A tenant’s request to install fibre broadband must be approved by the landlord unless specific exemptions apply.
  • Requests to assign a tenancy must be considered.
  • Landlords must provide tenants with a tenancy agreement in writing and a breakdown of fees charged on agreement to assignment, subletting or ending a tenancy.
  • On request, landlords must be able to provide a range of documents to the Regulator. These documents must be retained for 12 months after the termination of the tenancy.
  • The tenancy tribunal can order names and identifying details be suppressed.
  • The tenancy tribunal can make awards of up to $100,000, up from the previous $50,000.

More changes are coming. On August 11, Phase 3 of the RTA reforms will come into effect, which includes changes relating to family violence and physical assault. Please see the Tenancy Services website for more information.

Contact your local Orewa property management team

The RTA reforms mark the biggest change to New Zealand tenancy laws in 35 years. Here at Vertigro, we’re keeping a close eye on the changes to ensure we can provide our clients with the very best service possible in the months ahead.

Whether you are a tenant looking for a new place to call home or an owner seeking a rental property management that genuinely cares about your assets, we’re here to help. Contact us today on 09 473 5891 and have a chat with our friendly independent property management team.