The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 was passed in early August this year, bringing significant changes to tenancy law and the existing Residential Tenancies Act 1986. Whilst most changes do not come into effect until 11 February 2021, some of the amendments are already operative. As a landlord or tenant, it is crucial you familiarize yourself with these new laws as they will affect your rights and obligations in relation to your tenancy.

The major changes:

In effect from 12 August 2020 –

  • Rent increases are now limited to once every 12 months. Previously, these could be carried out every 180 days.

 In effect from 11 February 2021 –

  • The 90-day no fault eviction option has been removed. In the past, landlords could terminate a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice. Now, landlords cannot evict without reason. There must be a specific ground of termination as required by law.
  • Fixed term tenancies now automatically roll into periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term, unless the parties agree otherwise.
  • If a tenant requests to make minor alterations to the property, the landlord cannot reasonably withhold consent. Minor alterations do not extent to structural changes. They must be reversible.
  • Landlords can terminate the tenancy on the grounds of antisocial behaviour. To do so, the landlord must have issued the tenant with at least 3 written warnings within 90 days. Antisocial behaviour is defined within the Act as harassment or any other act or omission which reasonably causes alarm, distress or nuisance that is more than minor. 
  • If a landlord wants to move back into the property or use it to house family, 63 days’ notice is now required – up from the previous 42 days. It must be a “genuine need”, which requires that the new tenant move in within 90 days.
  • Landlords may terminate for non-payment of rent if payment is late by 5 working days on 3 separate occasions within 90 days, or if it is late by 21 days on any single occasion.
  • Tenants are now able to assign their tenancies. The landlord can only decline if they have a reasonable reason for doing so.
  • Rental bidding has been banned, meaning all rental properties must now be listed with a price attached.

As you can see, the new Act has significant implications for both landlords and tenants. Most of these changes will be coming into effect early next year, hence now is the time to make sure you fully understand these new laws and review your tenancies accordingly. If you are or plan on becoming a landlord or tenant in the near future, we suggest seeking legal advice from a trusted professional in order to ensure your rights and obligations under the new laws are correctly observed and complied with.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of the team at GML Lawyers.