Residential Tenancies Act 1986
Click Property Management requests that you as a client fully understand and adhere to your obligations as a landlord, as required by the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. Failure to comply can result in serious consequences- which is the last thing that we want for our owners.
Click Property Management abide by all laws and Government Legislation ensuring your interests are protected and that all legal obligations are met with a minimum of fuss or involvement on your part. At Click, we keep up-to-date with the latest changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.
The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) reforms became law on 11 August 2020 with passage of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2020.
Here are some of the more common 2020 Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, which take effect from 11 February 2021:
(for a full comprehensive summary please visit Tenancy Services website)
Security of Rental Tenure
- New termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and timeframes have changed.
- Some new grounds are additional to existing ground in the RTA and some details of existing grounds have changed.
- The provision allowing landlords to terminate a tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice will no longer apply.
- For both periodic and fixed term tenancies, landlords can issue a 14-day notice to terminate under certain circumstances.
- For period tenancies notice periods for termination by a landlord without Tenancy Tribunal involvement will increase to either 63 or 90 days’ notice (depending on the grounds for the notice)
- Notice period for the tenant to terminate a periodic tenancy will increase from 21 to 28 days.
For some situations, termination of the tenancy can only be ordered by the Tenancy Tribunal;
- Repeated instances of rent arrears and anti-social behaviour,
- The landlord has issued three 14-day notices within any 90-day period or the landlord has given notice that a tenant has been at least five working days late with their rent payment on three separate occasions within a 90-day period.
- Other examples that still apply;
- tenant has failed to remedy a breach,
- 21 days in rent arrears,
- caused or threatened to cause significant damage,
- assaulted or threatened to assault,
- used the premises for unlawful activity,
- abandonment and rent arrears.
Changes for Fixed-Term Tenancies
- All fixed term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies unless:
- a landlord gives notice using the reason listed in the RTA for periodic tenancies,
- a tenant gives notice for any reason at least 28 days before the end of the tenancy,
- the parties agree to extend, renew or end the fixed-term tenancy
- For some fixed term tenancies, 63 days’ notice will be required from the landlord, and for other situations, 90 days’ notice will be required.
Making a Minor Change
Tenants can request permission to make a change to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor.
- Tenants are responsible for any costs associated with the installation and reversal of a minor change that they request.
- Landlords can place reasonable conditions around how the minor change is carried out. Tenants must if the landlord requests reinstate the changes at the end of the lease.
- Landlords can decline a request if:
- The change is not a low risk for installation and removal
- Substantial restoration of the property to its previous condition is not reasonably possible
- The change will pose a health and safety risk, disturb hazardous materials or compromising the structural integrity, waterproofing or fundamental safety or character of the building
- The change will require a regulatory consent or breach an obligation such as a body corporate rule.
- Examples of Minor changes are:
- Visual fire alarms and doorbells, where they have low impacts
- Securing furniture to baby-proof or protect against earthquake risk
- Installing a baby gate
Tenants can request to install fibre broadband and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them
Rental Bidding and Increases
Landlords and agents can not seek rental bids and rent can only be increased every 12 months.
Landlords must provide new types of information to tenants:
- A landlord who does not provide a tenancy agreement in writing will be committing an unlawful act or an infringement offense and may be liable for exemplary damages or an infringement fee.
- Landlord must provide the tenant with a breakdown of any fees charged on agreement to assignment, subletting or ending a tenancy (break lease fees). This will give tenants an opportunity to consider if the fees are reasonable.
- On request, landlords will also have an obligation to provide the records relating to healthy homes standards.
- Landlords will have to retain documents and provided them to the regulator (MBIE) if required, such as records of building work that requires a building consent, prescribed electrical work, gas fitting, and sanitary plumbing, or any advertisement for the tenancy. These documents (or copies) must be retained during the tenancy and 12 months after the termination of the tenancy.
Healthy Homes Standards
The Healthy Homes Standards are now law. The Healthy Homes Standards introduce specific and minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping in rental properties.
Ceiling and underfloor insulation have been compulsory in all rental homes since 1 July 2019.
All private rentals must comply with all healthy homes standards, including the heating standard, within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy on or after 1 July 2021, with all private rentals complying by 1 July 2024.
Rental homes must have openable windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. Kitchens and bathrooms must have extractor fans. All private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 1 July 2021, with all private rentals complying by 1 July 2024.
Rental properties must have efficient drainage for the removal of stormwater, surface water and groundwater. Rental properties with an enclosed sub-floor space must have a ground moisture barrier. All private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 1 July 2021, with all private rentals complying by 1 July 2024.
Landlords must make sure the property does not have unreasonable gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, skylights, floors and doors which cause noticeable draughts. All unused open fireplaces closed off or their chimneys must be blocked to prevent draughts. All private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 1 July 2021, with all private rentals complying by 1 July 2024.
In some situations, a property may be exempt from complying with the healthy homes standards or parts of the standards.
Please see our comprehensive blog on Healthy Homes Standards - What Landlords Need to Know.
Summary of Compliance timeframes
From 1 July 2019
- ceiling and underfloor insulation is compulsory in all rental homes where it is reasonable practicable to install.
- Landlords must sign a statement of intent to comply with the healthy homes standards in any new, varied or renewed tenancy agreement.
- This statement is in addition to the existing requirement to include a signed insulation statement with all tenancy agreements that covers what insulation the property has, where it is, and what type.
- Landlords must keep records that demonstrate compliance with any healthy homes standards that apply or will apply during the tenancy.
From 1 December 2020
- Landlords must include a statement of their current level of compliance with the healthy homes standards in most new or renewed tenancy agreements.
From 1 July 2021
- Private landlords must ensure their rental properties comply with the healthy homes standards within 90 days of any new, or renewed, tenancy.
Key Information About Some of the 2016 Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act:
- Working smoke alarms must be installed in all residential rental homes and checked between every tenancy. Any replacement alarms installed need to have long life batteries and a photoelectric sensor, or be hard-wired. Read our article on Smoke Alarms.
Tenancy Abandonment Process
- The updated law introduces an expedited process for a landlord to regain possession of their rental property when the property has been abandoned.
- The expedited process for regaining possession will enable a Tenancy Adjudicator to decide the case based on evidence landlords have provided in their abandonment application. Landlords will not need to be present when the Adjudicator considers the evidence under this new process.
- The Tenancy Tribunal Application Online form has been updated to include the updated abandonment process.
Enhanced Enforcement Function
- The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has greater enforcement powers, including investigating and taking proceedings to the Tribunal on behalf of the tenant, even without the tenant’s consent.
- It is an unlawful act for a landlord to end a tenancy in retaliation for a tenant exercising their rights under the Residential Tenancies Act. This is called a ‘retaliatory notice’ under the Act. Tenants who take direct action against landlords will be able to challenge an alleged retaliatory notice up to 28 working days after it has been issued.