With one third of Kiwi’s renting their homes (some even for a lifetime), it’s important to have clear and fair rules for tenancies. This article will highlight some of the recent changes that have been made to rental property rules.

The government’s tenancy law reforms announced towards the end of 2019 are aimed at mainly protecting security and stability of tenancies for tenants. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill is making its way through Parliament and is currently with the Select Committee before moving on the to the next stage, the Second Reading.

If you’re a landlord:

  • Rent can only be increased once in twelve months, as opposed to six.
  • Tenants cannot be evicted without reason. Currently, periodic tenancy agreements can be terminated without reason, if you give your tenant 90 days’ notice. However, now you must select a reason from a list by the Residential Tenancies Act, stating a reason for the termination of the agreement.
  • Tenants will now be able to add minor fittings such as brackets to secure furniture against earthquakes, baby-proofing the property, installation of visual fire alarms or doorbells, or hang pictures.
  • Rental “bidding wars” will be banned.
  • The Tenancy Tribunal will be able to award compensation or order work to be done up to a value of $100,000 (instead of $50,000).
  • New tools will be available to help you take direct action against any tenants breaking the rules.

In context to damages, methamphetamine, and unlawful rental premises, the following changes will now be applicable:

  • If tenants (or their guests) damage your rental property as a result of careless behaviour, they will directly be liable. They can be charged up to a maximum of four weeks of rent or your insurance excess (whichever is lower).
  • If you have insurance, you must include this (and the excess) in any new tenancy agreement. A copy of the policy agreement should also be made available to the tenant on request.
  • You can also now test for methamphetamine while your tenants are living there. They must however be given at least 48 hours’ notice (but not more than 14 days’ notice). Boarding house tenants must be given at least 24 hours’ notice.
  • All legal requirements relating to the buildings, health, and safety apply to your rental property as well. It is the duty of the landlord to ensure that the property can legally be lived in at the start of the tenancy.

If you would like advice on how to manage the income being generated from your rental properties, or if you have any queries relatives to the new amendments being made to the Residential Tenancies Bill, please feel free to reach out to us on info@jzr.co.nz or call us on +64-9-972-2236.

Written by Rowain Pereira

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