Did you know there are a few significant changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986?

Changes have already come into effect on 12 August 2020, including:

  1. The Residential Tenancies Act will not apply to transitional and emergency housing.
  2. Rent can now only be increased once every 12 months (previously every 6 months).

More changes are to take effect on 11 February 2021, including:

  1. Landlords cannot end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice, as they have been able to do in the past.
  2. All fixed-term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless:
    • The parties agree otherwise
    • The tenant gives a 28-day notice; or
    • The landlord gives notice according to the termination grounds for periodic tenancies. Note: The termination notices issued by a landlord will be increasing to either 63 days or 90 days depending on the grounds for the notice.
  3. Tenants can now ask to make changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor, landlords must respond to a tenant’s request within 21 days.
  4. Rental bidding is prohibited. Rental properties must be advertised with a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental
  5. Tenants can request to install fibre, and landlords must approve if it will be no cost to the landlord, unless specific exemptions apply.
  6. A suppression order can remove names and identifying details from published Tenancy Tribunal decisions.
  7. Requests to assign a tenancy must be considered, landlords cannot decline unreasonably. If a residential tenancy agreement prohibits assignment, it has no effect.
  8. Landlords must provide a tenancy agreement in writing, otherwise will be committing an unlawful act. Landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information to tenants, including any fees to be charged on agreement to assignment, subletting or ending a tenancy. On request, landlords will be obligated to provide the records relating to healthy homes standards.
  9. Enforcement measures are being strengthened. Penalty levels for exemplary damages and fines will increase by between 50-80%.
  10. The Tenancy Tribunal’s jurisdiction for cases and awards will increase from $50,000 to $100,000.

Another change will take effect on 11 August 2021 (or earlier if the Government agrees):

  1. Tenants experiencing family violence will be able to withdraw with 2 days’ notice from a tenancy without financial penalty.

For more information, check out the Tenancy Services Website: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/law-changes/