Tenancy Law Changes: Are you updated?
By Esther Zhuang


Tenancy Law Changes: Are you updated?

Tenancy law in New Zealand has been changing, and it’s important that landlords are aware of the new laws and obligations they need to fulfil. While many of the laws are already familiar, there is still a Phase 3 underway for introducing new tenancy law.
 
Making sure your housing, including boarding houses meet all the obligations will help avoid sticky situations and less confusion for your tenants. Here is a summary of all the changed tenancy laws since 2020, which is being rolled out in three phases.
 
Phase One
 
This phase has already been in effect since 12 August 2020 and includes:

  • Transitional and emergency housing will be exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act where the housing is funded wholly or partially by a government department or provided under the Special Needs Grant Programme. Providers of transitional and emergency housing will still be able to opt in to parts of the Act if they wish, by agreeing in writing with the tenant which parts will apply.
  • Rent can only be increased every 12 months. A landlord must give their tenant at least 60 days’ written notice of a rent increase. Boarding house landlords must give their tenant at least 28 days’ written notice.
Phase Two
 
From 11 February 2021, multiple changes to the tenancy legislation took effect. It is best to go to www.tenancy.govt.nz for the full list, as the following are some of the ones you should be aware of daily:
  • Landlords are unable to end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days notice, with new termination grounds outlined and notice periods changed.
  • Fixed-term tenancies signed on or after 11 February 2021 will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless the parties agree otherwise.
  • Tenants can ask to make changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor. Landlords must respond to a tenant’s request to make a change within 21 days.
  •  Tenants can request to install fibre broadband, and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them, unless specific exemptions apply.
  • The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations. The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000. This is a change from $50,000.
Phase Three
 
This phase is still underway, with the below provisions coming into force once new regulations have taken effect:
  • Family violence: tenants experiencing family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy without financial penalty.
  • Physical assault: a landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s agent, and the police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of the assault.
 
Were you aware of all the changes that were mentioned? It’s always best to remain proactive in understanding tenancy laws as they may have changed since you first read them.