Changes to Renting Laws

On 29 March 2021, new rental laws are coming into place which clarify the rights and responsibilities of renters and rental providers.

Key changes for landlords

  • Rental providers must pay back renters for the cost of urgent repairs (or replacement if the fault cannot be repaired) within seven days of the renter giving written notice of the reasonable cost of the repairs.
  • Rental properties can only be advertised with a fixed price. Rental providers are banned from inviting rental bids or soliciting offers of rent higher than the advertised price. A higher, unprompted offer made by a prospective renter can be accepted however. 
  • For agreements beginning on or after 29 March 2020, minimum rental standards are changing, including requirements relating to safety and privacy, and amenities. Key changes include that each room must be free from mould and dampness, a fixed heater in the main living area will be required for all rented premises and all external doors which are not able to be secured with a functioning deadlock (other than any screen door attached to an external door) must be fitted with a locking device accessible by key. Further, the rented premises must be structurally sound and weatherproof and the bathroom must have access to reasonable hot and cold water supply.
    • If the rental property does not meet the minimum standards, the renter has the right to end the rental agreement before they move in.
  • Rental providers must give renters seven days’ notice of a general inspection and pay at least $30 for each sales inspection that takes place.
  • Before providing a rental agreement, rental providers must disclose to the renter whether the property is on the market for sale or is being repossessed
  • Rental providers must comply with requirements for keeping and producing records of gas and electrical safety checks conducted at the property.
  • Notices to Vacate for “no reason” can no longer be issued. A valid reason such as sale, demolition of the rental property, or rental provider moving back into the rental property must be provided in order to end the rental agreement.
  • To prevent discrimination, it is unlawful for rental providers and their agents to ask any potential renter to provide certain information in a rental application form. This includes:
    • If an applicant has ever had a dispute with or taken legal action against a rental provider;
    • The history of a renters bond in a previous rental premises (for example rental providers cannot ask whether a rental applicant has ever had bond deducted by a previous rental provider);
    • Requesting bank or credit card statements that show transactions made by the renter; and
    • Private information about the renter which is protected in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (such as ethnicity, gender identity or disability).

Key changes for tenants

  • The scope of what is considered an urgent repair, which is a repair which must be responded to by the landlord immediately, has widened. Urgent repairs now include repairs relating to air-conditioning and smoke alarms. Further, pest infestation and mould or damp related to the building structure are also considered urgent repairs. 
  • Rental providers must pay back renters for the cost of urgent repairs within seven days of the renter giving written notice of the reasonable cost of the repairs.
  • Tenants can now make small changes to the rental property, such as: installing picture hooks, LED light globes which do not require new light fittings, blind or cord anchors. shelves and child-safety devices on surfaces that are not exposed brick or concrete, without having to ask their landlord for express permission.
  • Renters must leave the property reasonably clean and in the same condition as at the start of the rental agreement, taking into account fair wear and tear. This includes reversing any modifications or covering the cost of reversing them, unless agreed upon otherwise with their rental provider.

If you require any further information about these changes, please contact the Beck Legal Property team on 54453333.

 

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