New Zealand Law Society - Changes to Residential Tenancies Act proposed for 2020

Changes to Residential Tenancies Act proposed for 2020

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Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi has announced proposals to make changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

The changes will be drafted in a bill to amend the Act, which will be introduced to Parliament in the first half of 2020, he says.

Among the key proposed changes:

  • Landlords will not be able to end a periodic tenancy without a reason. The legislation will set out nine specified reasons that a landlord may use to end a periodic tenancy.
  • Fixed-term tenancies will become periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term. This applies unless the landlord and tenant agree otherwise, the tenant gives notice, or the landlord gives notice using one of the specified reasons.
  • Notice periods to end a periodic tenancy will be 63 days where the landlord or their family member requires the property to live in or if the property is needed for an employee.
  • Notice periods to end a periodic tenancy will be 90 days where the property has been sold with a requirement for vacant possession.
  • Tenants will be able to add minor fittings to their premises where the installation and removal of the fittings is low risk. Tenants must request permission to do so, but landlords can only decline for specified reasons.
  • All requests by tenants to assign a fixed-term tenancy must be considered and landlords must not decline unreasonably.
  • The Regulator will have new compliance tools to take direct action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.
  • The penalty amounts in the Act will be increased in line with rental increases since 2006, when the penalty amounts were set.
  • Soliciting rental bids, for example, by advertising a property without a rental price, will be prohibited.
  • The minimum period between rent increases will be raised from six months to 12 months.
  • A party who is successful in the Tenancy Tribunal can have their identifying details removed from the Tribunal’s decision.
  • The Tenancy Tribunal will be able to hear cases and make awards up to $100,000 - up from $50,000.
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