Tenancy laws are changing. October 2022 will see four significant reforms to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008. These reforms will be implemented in a staggered approach, with the first of the amendments relating to domestic and family violence protections having come into effect in October 2021.
Our team is here to assist and educate you through the transition period of these reforms coming into place. Let us share with you some information on what these reforms look like.
Domestic and family violence protections
At the onset of Covid-19, changes were made to protect victims of domestic and family violence. These changes have now become the first of the reforms to come into practice. A victim of domestic or family violence can now end a tenancy with 7 days notice if they do not feel safe to continue occupying the rental premises. The tenant must provide a Notice ending tenancy interest – Form 20 supported by relevant evidence.
It is important to note a few other key changes when a tenancy is ended on these grounds. The vacating tenant cannot be held responsible for costs associated with ending the tenancy or re-letting the property. Similarly, they cannot be held responsible for costs associated with damage to the property caused by an act of domestic or family violence and nor can they be held responsible for the costs of goods left behind at the property.
Pets in rental properties
The new legislation makes it harder for landlords to decline a tenants request to keep pets and effectively removes the owner’s right to have a “zero pets” policy at the property. Tenants are still required to seek approval for keeping a pet however, the application for keeping the pet can only be declined on prescribed grounds.
There are 2 key changes that see some protection put in place for the landlord. Pet damage is now excluded from the definition of fair wear and tear. This means that a landlord can seek compensation for damages caused by a pet. And secondly, the landlord can set out reasonable conditions for the tenant to agree to before finalising the approval i.e professional carpet cleaning or flea treatment.
Ending a tenancy
The new laws will see changes made to the way a tenancy agreement can be terminated. The landlord will no longer have the ability to end a tenancy agreement without grounds. However, new approved reasons have been implemented and one of these approved reasons is because a fixed term tenancy has reached the end of its term. This new approved reason effectively protects the landlords ability to end a fixed term tenancy however, that is not the case for periodic agreements. Landlords have effectively lost the ability to terminate a periodic tenancy agreement without grounds and now can only see the tenancy end for one of the approved reasons. Some of these new approved reasons are because they wish to move into the property or sell the property.
Minimum housing standards
This provision is going to be applicable for new tenancies from September 2023 and a requirement for all tenancies from September 2024. These new standards will ensure that a rented property is safe, secure and functional. The minimum housing standards will help to ensure a property is fit for human habitation and gives a tenant confidence that their rental property is safe. Tenants will now also be allowed a 7 day period to complete and return their entry condition report, an increase from the current 3 day period.
This document provides you with an overview of the major changes –