Residential tenancy changes: what you need to know

17 Feb 2021

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the introduction of new tenancy laws will come into effect from 29 March 2021 when the Omnibus Legislation is finalised. Our Head of Rentals, Prue Bryant explains the key changes landlords and tenants need to know.

“The new laws will raise the standard of properties and while requirements under the new legislation will be an extra cost to owners, it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing that your property is safe.”

Minimum rental standards introduced
Rental providers – landlords and or their agents – need to make certain their property is well maintained and reasonably suitable for living in. This is regardless of the cost of rent or the age of the property. This will provide higher standards of rental properties and bring a greater focus on maintenance and ensuring the property is at a liveable standard. Gone are the days of renting an older property and saying ‘it is what it is’.

Urgent repairs expanded
The current $1800 limit on urgent repairs will be raised and our expectation is that it will be increased to $3000. What qualifies as an urgent repair has been expanded to include air conditioning, heating, pest and vermin infestation, adequate water, gas and electricity supply, cooking facilities, secure windows, blinds, and safety devices. Landlords are required to reimburse the reasonable cost of repairs within seven days of receiving written notice.

As part of the compliance expectations, we will provide safety inspection packages that extend past the current smoke detector checks to the newly introduced gas (carbon monoxide) and electricals sign off. We will continue to provide our tenants with updated contact information for approved tradespeople in the event of urgent and non-urgent repairs. This ensures costs are minimised without compromising quality and tenants are aware of who to call, especially after hours. We will also provide our tenants with basic, short-term remedies in the event of an emergency, such as knowing where to turn off the water if there is burst pipe.

Tenants can keep pets
It is now easier for tenants to have pets, with the new laws stating consent can’t be reasonably refused. Tenants need to ask to keep a pet via a written request. Refusal will be considered on the nature of the premises and the property’s fixtures and the type of pet.

Rent increases limited
Rent can only be increased once every 12 months and the landlord/agent needs to justify how the increase was calculated. Rental prices need to be advertised at a fixed price and higher offers can’t be solicited. However potential tenants are permitted to make unprompted higher offers in an attempt to secure a property.

Ending lease options limited
The option for landlords and agents to end a lease with no reason and 120 days notice has been removed. The only remaining reasons for a landlord wishing to break the lease, apart from the end of the fixed term agreement, are very specific and linked to family moving in, renovation or selling. This means there is an even greater imperative to choose the right tenant and to ensure your property is well looked after to attract such tenants. After the expiry of the first initial lease term, there is also a greater emphasis on whether the owner wants to continue leasing to the current tenant or to someone new.


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