Amidst the current Corona Virus climate, we’re adapting to the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.
Whilst some of the new regulations surrounding Agents licensing won’t be enforced for a grace period of 6 Months, most agencies have already implemented new procedures surrounding their tenancies being compliant.
What are we hearing so far:
- Owners not particularly liking tenants having their contact details, privacy concerns and the reasons why they have enlisted a Property Manager
- Less emphasis on wanting fixed term leases, a lose lose for all maybe
- Tenants can sign electronic leases without needing a witness, a streamlined process for all
We’ll all adapt and innovate, as we must in these times.
Stay safe, Antonio
The latest release of up to date information issued by the Office of Fair Trading can be found here.
More information to follow here below as it comes to hand.
Antonio @ The Management Agency
Further information is coming to light with regards to the changes coming into place on 23/3/2020 with many Property Managers hopeful we’ll have the complete outlook within the coming weeks, especially when it comes to the time frames in which all of the changes need to be in place, where some of these are immediate and others won’t be.
Here are some points I’ve been reading about;
- New Leases from 23/3/2020 will need to list one of the Landlords points of contacts, whether it be an email address or phone number, this is set to be a requirement and a non-negotiable.
- All Landlords will need to read and sign a “Landlord Information Statement” this will ensure that all landlords are aware of all of their responsibilities when a Lease is entered into, we are yet to get our hands on a copy of the prescribed form.
- Similar to Smoke Alarms, properties will need to be tested and certified for Water Efficiency at the beginning of tenancies where Water Usage is being charged and recouped from tenants.
More to come as we approach the commencement date of these reforms,
Antonio @ The Management Agency
So what’s changing? Scroll on down if you’re after a quick Summary.
With the Residential Tenancy Act & Regulations have been under review for some time now we can finally say for certain that some new legislation is coming into place on the 23rd of March 2020.
The reforms will affect, to differing degrees, all Landlords and Tenants, so being in the know is crucial!
There are also several changes in the way in which agents are qualified, licensed will change as well as their ongoing training requirements in order to practise as Real Estate Agents.
So, here’s my rundown of what we know for certain at the moment, because despite the nearing deadline it’s not all set in stone just yet so we don’t have all of the final wording.
1. Domestic Violence;
These changes already came into place in July 2019.
Victims of domestic violence will be able to terminate their tenancy immediately and without penalty. In the event that a tenancy is terminated due to domestic violence, landlords and their agents are prohibited from listing the victim on a tenancy database.
Additionally, victims of domestic violence and their co-tenant (who is not the perpetrator) will not be held liable for property damage that occurred during a domestic violence incident. It remains unclear who would be held accountable for property damage costs at this stage.
2. Rental requirements and minor alterations
All rental properties must meet the following seven requirements at the start and throughout the tenancy to be considered fit for living:
• Structurally sound property
• Adequate natural or artificial lighting in each room, except storage rooms or garages
• Adequate ventilation
• Supplied with electricity or gas and have adequate electricity or gas outlets for lighting, heating and appliances
• Adequate plumbing and drainage
• Connected to a water supply service or infrastructure for the supply of hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning
• Contains bathroom facilities, including toilet and washing facilities, which allows user privacy
Also, landlords will not be able to unreasonably refuse minor alterations to properties such as installing picture hooks.
3. Repairs and maintenance
In an effort to reduce disputes over repairs and maintenance, NSW Fair Trading will have the power to issue rectification orders if tenants require urgent repairs or maintenance.
Furthermore, only landlords can carry out repairs to smoke alarms, except for certain kinds of smoke alarms and repairs. A maximum penalty of $2,200 may apply to landlords who fail to repair a smoke alarm.
4. Rent increases and break lease fees
For periodic leases, rent increases are limited to once a year. This does not apply to fixed-term leases that are less than two years in duration that specify when, and how much, rent is increased by.
For all new fixed-term leases that are three years or less, set break lease fees will apply:
• Four week’s rent if 75% or more of the lease remains
• Three weeks’ rent if between 50% and 75% of the lease remains
• Two weeks’ rent if between 25% and 50% of the lease remains
• One weeks’ rent if 25% or less of the lease remains
5. Stricter termination notices
No-grounds evictions remain unchanged in the reforms. However, stricter termination notices mean that landlords cannot give a termination notice to a tenant solely because of unpaid rent or bills unless the charges are over 14 days late.
In matters involving a Tribunal, about the termination of a tenancy due to unpaid water charges, the termination is only valid if the landlord has requested payment from the tenant within three months of the bill’s issue.
Termination of other fixed-term tenancies must be on or after the end of the fixed term and no earlier than 30 days after the notice to terminate was given. For periodic tenancies, termination must be no earlier than 90 days after the day the notice was given.
Meanwhile, tenants may give a termination notice if they enter into an agreement by misleading statements that are proven to be concealing certain facts.
Additionally, tenants may give a termination notice if the property is included on the loose-fill asbestos insulation register during or before the commencement of the tenancy without informing the tenant.
6. Added transparency and clarity
The reforms will prohibit tenancy database operators from charging tenants to access their own personal information held on the database.
Meanwhile, landlords can have access to the premises without the tenant’s consent to take photos or videos of the interior of the property once in a 28-day period, as long as reasonable notice is given and the tenants’ possessions are not included in the photos or video footage.
Lastly, landlords or agents must provide a tenant with a property condition report at the start of the tenancy. Failure to do so may incur a maximum penalty of $2,200.
• Minimum standards for properties’ habitability.
• Permitting tenants to make minor changes (such as putting up picture hooks).
• A limit on the number of rent increases for an ongoing lease to one a year.
• Set fees for breaking leases early, based on the remaining time on the agreement.
• Making it easier for tenants to get repair orders from the Tribunal (NCAT).
• Compelling landlords to fix smoke alarms.
• New rules around taking (and publishing) photos and videos during inspections, especially where the tenants’ possessions are visible.
• Preventing tenancy database operators from charging tenants to access their own information.
• Penalising landlords and agents if they don’t provide a tenant with a property condition report at the start of the tenancy.
You can find my previous post covering the reforms dating back to September 2018 here.
I’ll be sure to share the definitive updates once they’ve been released!