As you might have heard, the government recently passed the Residential Tenancies Amendment (RTA) Bill 2020.  The bill introduces almost 100 amendments or new sections to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, with the aim of making tenancy laws suitable for the modern renting environment.

The RTA affects both tenants and landlords. As your local Hibiscus Coast property management experts, we’ve been keeping a close eye on all of the changes and latest developments in the RTA.

In this blog post, we’re going to explore some of the most notable amendments and discuss how they might impact you.

Tenancy termination changes

Perhaps the most controversial change is the removal of the right to issue no-cause terminations. From 11 February 2021, landlords will only be able to terminate a tenancy under specific grounds.

Notice periods vary depending on the grounds for notice. Landlords are required to give 63 days notice if:

  • The owner or a member of the owner’s family requires the property as their principal place of residence.
  • The landlords’ employees or contractors require the property for occupation.

…while 90 days notice is required if:

  • The property is to be sold.
  • Substantial renovations are to be carried out.
  • The premises are to be demolished or converted into commercial premises.

The RTA also introduces new grounds for termination that can be ordered by the Tenancy Tribunal. A landlord may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end a periodic tenancy if:

  • A tenant has been issued three notices for anti-social behaviour within a 90-day period.
  • A tenant has been given notice of being at least five days late with rent payments on three separate occasions within a 90-day period.

Landlords must allow minor changes and fibre installations

Under the RTA, landlords must not decline tenants’ requests to make minor changes to the rental property. Tenants are fully responsible for the costs associated with the work and must restore the property to its previous condition when the tenancy ends if the landlord does not want the changes to remain in place.

Landlords can refuse requests for a minor change if:

  • There’s a significant risk involved with installation and removal.
  • It won’t be possible to restore the property to its previous condition.
  • The change will affect the structural integrity, waterproofing or safety of the building.
  • It will require regulatory consent or breach an existing obligation.

Similarly, tenants will be able to request to install fibre broadband and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them. The request can be declined if the installation will:

  • Impact the integrity of the building.
  • Breach a body corporate rule.
  • Interfere with extensive renovations that the landlord intends to begin within 90 days of the request.

Rental bidding and increases

The new laws also introduce a number of changes to the way rental properties are advertised. Under the RTA, prices must be listed on the rental advertisement and landlords and agents are no longer allowed to seek rental bids (although tenants can still offer to pay more for a property if they choose to).

In addition, rent increases have been limited to once every 12 months (six months previously).

Landlords must retain more information about tenancies

As of 11 February 2021, landlords will be required to provide new types of information to tenants, including:

  • A tenancy agreement in writing.
  • A breakdown of fees charged on agreement to assignment, subletting or ending a tenancy.
  • Records relating to healthy home standards, upon request.

Landlords will also have to retain various documents pertaining to building consent, electrical work, gas fitting, sanitary plumbing and tenancy advertisements, and provide them to the MBIE if required.

When do the law changes come into effect?

The RTA comes into effect in three phases:

Phase 1: 12 August 2020

  • Rent increases
  • Transitional house and emergency housing

Phase 2: 11 February 2021

  • Security of rental tenure
  • Changes for fixed-term tenancies
  • Making minor changes
  • Prohibitions on rental bidding
  • Fibre broadband
  • Privacy and access to justice
  • Assignment of tenancies
  • Landlord records
  • Strengthened enforcement measures
  • Changes to Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction

Phase 3: 11 August 2021

  • Family violence
  • Physical assault

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all the changes in the RTA. For more information, check out the summary of changes or have a read through the complete bill here.

Contact the rental property management experts

Drawing on more than 15 years of experience, we’ll help you ensure your rental property is compliant with the new laws while keeping you fully informed about your rights and obligations under the RTA.

To learn more, contact our independent property management team today on 09 473 5891.