"The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill was introduced on 17 February 2020. The Minister for Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi is in charge of the bill.
Since the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 came into force home ownership rates have declined and the proportion of households living in rental properties has increased. Some people are having difficulties finding tenancies, which can lead to people using government emergency or transitional housing.
The bill aims to modernise the Act and while balancing the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords.
The main changes include:
increasing security of tenure for tenants who are meeting their obligations
promoting good-faith relationships in the renting environment
modernising and clarifying the Act to reflect the modern renting market and environment
supporting tenants’ ability to assert their legal rights.
Clause 7 replaces section 13 with new section 13 which provides that it will be an unlawful act and an infringement offence for the landlord to fail to ensure that the tenancy agreement is in writing or to fail to provide a signed copy to the tenant before the tenancy commences.
New sections 43A and 43B deal with assignment and provide that a clause prohibiting assignment by a tenant is of no effect (unless it is for a social housing tenancy, in which case it does have effect). It will be unlawful for a tenant to assign a tenancy without the prior written consent of the landlord.
A landlord must, if requested by the tenant, provide information relating to compliance with healthy homes within 21 days (clause 27 amending section 45). The information to be provided is described in regulation 40 of the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019.
New section 45B requires a landlord to permit and facilitate the installation of a fibre connection in the premises in some circumstances.
Clauses 31 and 32 remove landlord’s ability to end a periodic tenancy on 90 days’ notice without giving a reason. That is replaced by a range of justifications for ending the tenancy by notice or by a Tenancy Tribunal order (section 51 and new section 53B)
Section 55 provides new grounds for an application to the Tenancy tribunal – if the tenant repeatedly fails to pay the rent on time or repeatedly engages in anti-social behaviour or it would be unreasonable for the landlord to continue with the tenancy due to hardship.
Clauses 31 and 32 increase the notice period for a tenant to end a periodic tenancy by notice, from 21 to 28 days.
Clause 39 adjusts the process by which a fixed-term tenancy becomes a periodic tenancy when the fixed term ends. It amends section 60A to restrict the landlord’s ability to give notice to certain circumstances.
The upper monetary limit of the Tribunal’s jurisdiction is increased from $50,000 to $100,000 (clause 47 amending section 77).
Clause 51 inserts new section 95A, which provides that the Tribunal may make a suppression order prohibiting the publication of evidence or of the name or any identifying particulars of any witness or party.
The Act comes into force on the day that is 6 months after the date of Royal assent."