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Residential Tenancies Reforms - Second Stage Has Come Into Force

Tuesday 18 May 2021

The 2nd stage of the 3 phased amendments in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 came into force on 11 February 2021.

Changes for Landlords to remember

If you are a landlord, you need to remember that the following changes had happened:

  1. You can no longer terminate a periodic tenancy without any cause. Previously, landlords were able to terminate a periodic tenancy by giving a 90 days’ notice. Termination must be for cause or under one of the grounds allowed.
  2. Termination for cause includes anti-social behaviour by the Tenant on at least 3 occasions within 90 days after notice was given, and the process under the Act is followed.
  3. If you are selling your rental property and need to vacate your tenant, then you must give your tenant at least 90 days’ notice. Previously you were only required to give 42 days’ notice.
  4. When a fixed term tenancy ends, it will automatically become a periodic tenancy. That is unless if the parties both agree otherwise or if the tenant gives you notice or if you have grounds to terminate the tenancy.
  5. If you are listing your property for rent, you must specify the rental amount in the listing. This is required regardless of whether you are listing the property online or on social media or publicly on a noticeboard.
  6. Rent Increases: You can only increase your rent once every 12 months, up from every 6 months.
  7. If your tenant asks to assign the tenancy or asks for minor alterations, you must consider their request. You must not unreasonably decline their request.
  8. The awards that the Tenancy Tribunal can make are now up to $100,000.
  9. Suppression of names: Both landlords or tenants who are successful in their applications or defences may apply to have their identifying details removed from publication. Previously all details were public regardless of whether the applications were successful or not.

There is no question that it will now be a lot more difficult to remove an unwanted tenant. More importantly, you should check out your tenant thoroughly prior to taking them on. One way is to ask the tenant to obtain and provide a credit check report on themselves. If they are unwilling to do so, that may be reasonable grounds for you to reject the tenant.

Tenant’s Privacy

The Privacy Commissioner has expressed concerns about how landlords are sharing information about undesirable tenants in a way which blacklists them without their knowledge or any ability to have any input. Requesting their own credit check is a valid way of doing due diligence on your prospective tenants.

Don’t forget that during the tenancy, you must respect your tenant’s privacy by giving them the required notice to enter the property. You need 24 hours’ notice to enter for maintenance and repairs and 48 hours for an inspection.

When taking photographs during an inspection, again, you should take care as much as possible not to include tenant’s private possessions in your photos. Your concern should be the condition of the premises instead. The Tenancy Tribunal had found photographing tenant’s possessions to constitute an unwarranted breach of their privacy on occasions.

 

Teresa Chan

 

This article is for general use only. Advice should be sought for specific circumstances. Please consult Teresa Chan at Teresa Chan Law Limited, Level 3, Westpac Building, 106 George Street, Dunedin 9016, ph. 477 1069, or email teresa@tchanlaw.co.nz

KEYWORDS: Residential Tenancies reform, terminate periodic tenancies, rent increase, name suppression, tenants’ privacy
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