There have been significant changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (“The Act”) over the last year. These new changes are being introduced in a three-phase roll-out taking effect on 12 August 2020, 11 February 2021 and 11 August 2021. The majority of these changes will take effect from 11 February 2021.
To help you navigate these changes and ensure that you are meeting your obligations and know your rights as a landlord or tenant, a summary of the changes is outlined below:
CHANGES EFFECTIVE NOW
- Tenants experiencing family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy without financial penalty.
- Rent increases are limited to once every 12 months. This is a change from once every 180 days (six months).
CHANGES EFFECTIVE 11 FEBRUARY 2021 – PHASE II
1. Changes to short notice for periodic tenancies
The short notice period to terminate the tenancy will increase from 42 days’ to 63 days’. You can only use the short notice period where the owner or a member of the owners family or employees and contractors of the landlord require the property as their principal place of residence.
2. Changes to grounds in which a landlord can give notice
The general right to terminate a tenancy by a landlord has been removed. The landlord may only remove a tenant by giving 90 days’ notice if:
- the property is to be put on the market for sale within 90 days’ of the termination date; or
- the property is sold unconditionally with vacant possession; or
- extensive alterations or redevelopment are to be carried out within 90 days’ of the termination date, and it would not be practical for the tenant to remain in the property; or
- the premises is to be converted to a commercial building for at least 90 days’; or
- the building is to be demolished within 90 days’ of the termination date.
3. Terminating tenancy through the Tenancy Tribunal
The landlord may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate a tenancy if the tenant:
- repeatedly fails to pay rent on time; or
- engages in “anti-social behaviour”.
To succeed in the Tenancy Tribunal, the landlord must:
- show that the tenant has infringed in three separate occasions within a 90 day period;
- have provided written notice to the tenant regarding each incident; and
- make an application to the tenancy tribunal within 28 days’ of giving the third notice.
A landlord may also apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate a tenancy on the grounds of hardship.
4. Change to notice period for tenants
Notice periods for tenants to terminate a periodic tenancy will also increase from 21 to 28 days’.
5. Changes for fixed-term tenancies
All fixed-term tenancy agreements will automatically convert to periodic tenancies at the end of their fixed-term unless the parties agree. Otherwise, the tenant gives a 28-day notice, or the landlord gives notice per the termination grounds for periodic tenancies.
6. Making minor changes to property at tenants request
Tenants will soon 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 to make a change within 21 days.
The tenant is responsible for any costs associated with these changes, including any cost for reversal.
7. Prohibitions on rental bidding
Rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental (pay more than the advertised rent amount).
8. Access to fibre broadband
Tenants can request to install fibre broadband, and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them unless specific exemptions apply.
9. Privacy and access to justice
A suppression order can be made to remove names and any identifying details from Tenancy Tribunal publishing’s if it is in the public’s best interest or the parties involved to do so.
10. Assignment of tenancies
If a residential tenancy agreement prohibits assignment, it will no longer have any effect. Instead, all requests to assign a tenancy must be considered and cannot be unreasonably declined by the landlord.
Please note, this will not be applicable if the tenancy for social housing.
11. Landlord records
Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing will be an unlawful act. Any landlord to be found in breach of this will be liable to incur a fine or infringement fee.
12. Strengthened enforcement measures
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have new measures to take action against parties who do not meet their obligations under the Act.
13. Changes to the Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction
Previously the Tenancy Tribunal could make awards up to $50,000., this limit has now been increased to $100,000.
CHANGES EFFECTIVE 11 August 2021 – PHASE III
The last phase of changes will come into effect on 11 August 2021.
Tenancies can be terminated if family violence or an assault on the landlord has occurred.
Tenants who experience family violence will be able to withdraw from a fixed-term or periodic tenancy without financial penalty by giving two days’ notice and evidence of the family violence. If they are the only tenant, the tenancy will end.
A landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of the assault.
For more information on your rights and responsibilities as a landlord or tenant, you can read more on www.tenancy.govt.nz.
Whatever the terms of your tenancy, we can review your agreement and help you to understand your rights and obligations during this time. If you have any queries get in contact with our property team:
Grant Proudfoot – Ph: 03 687 7386 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maarten Dirkzwager – Ph: 021 039 3225 | E: email@example.com
Alice Caird – Ph: 03 687 7381 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenny Carter-Bolitho – Ph: 03 687 7383 | E: email@example.com
Stacey Blissett – Ph: 03 687 7394 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org