Important Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act for Landlords and Tenants
3 March 2021
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it is essential to understand your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act.
The Act is in the process of being updated and a number of important changes took effect on 11 February 2021:
- Rent can only be increased once every 12 months. Previously rent increases could occur every six months (this change took effect earlier, on 12 August 2020).
- Landlords must have genuine reasons to end a tenancy, even if notice is given. Previously 42 days’ notice was required, but the notice period is now 63 or 90 days, depending on the reason for the tenancy ending:
- If the owner of the property or a member of the owner’s family is moving into the property, or if the property will be used as employee accommodation (and is normally used for the purpose of employee accommodation, as stated in the tenancy agreement), then 63 days’ notice is required.
- If the property is going to be sold or changes will be made to the property (such as extensive renovations or a conversion to commercial premises), then 90 days’ notice is required.
- Landlords have new reasons available to terminate a tenancy. If there are:
- Three separate instances of anti-social behaviour in connection with the tenancy within a 90-day period; or
- Three separate instances of being in rent arrears for at least five working days within a 90-day period; and
- The landlord has given written notice to the tenant on each occasion and has applied to the Tenancy Tribunal within 28 days of the third notice being given; then
- The Tenancy Tribunal can terminate the tenancy.
- Tenants must give 28 days’ notice to end a tenancy – previously this was 21 days.
- Fixed-term tenancies signed on or after 11 February 2021 will automatically convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless the parties agree otherwise or end the tenancy in accordance with the requirements for a periodic tenancy.
- If a tenant requests to make changes to the property, the landlord must respond to the request within 21 days. If the change is minor, the landlord cannot decline the request. See here for what constitutes a “minor change”.
- Advertisements for rental properties must list the rental price and the landlord cannot invite potential tenants to “bid” on the rental and pay more than the advertised amount.
- If the tenant requests it, the landlord must install fibre broadband if it can be installed at no cost to the landlord.
- Landlords must consider any request to assign a tenancy (sublet) and cannot decline the request unreasonably. This is so even if a residential tenancy agreement specifically states that assignment is not allowed.
- Landlords must provide a tenancy agreement in writing and must retain certain information about the property, such as maintenance records. You can find a full list of the information landlords are required to retain here.
- The Tenancy Tribunal can hear claims up to the value of $100,000 – previously this was $50,000.
- From 11 August 2021, two further reasons will be available to terminate a tenancy:
- A tenant experiencing family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy without financial penalty.
- If a tenant physically assaults the landlord, the owner, a member of the owner’s or landlord’s family, or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have charged the tenant with assault, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving 14 days’ notice.
You can find out more information about the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act and residential tenancies in general at https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/.
For legal assistance with residential tenancies, please contact our friendly and knowledgeable team at Bramwell Bate Lawyers.
Written by Morgan Duckworth