There have been changes to the Residential Tenancies Act which will be of interest to both landlords and tenants. Some of the changes include:
- Real Estate agents and property managers are now referred to as letting agents. All letting agents can now charge a letting fee.
- A fixed term tenancy now reverts to a periodic tenancy on the date the fixed term tenancy ends, unless either the landlord or the tenant gives notice to the contrary between 21 and 90 days before the fixed-term tenancy expires.
- If there is a right in the tenancy agreement to renew or extend the tenancy and the tenant wishes to renew or extend the tenancy, the tenant must write to the landlord advising them at least 21 days before the tenancy is due to end.
- Landlords and tenants must always provide a physical street address as an address for service, but can now add an email address, P O Box number or a fax number as an alternative address for service.
- If a landlord is going to be absent from New Zealand for more than 21 consecutive days, they must appoint a New Zealand based agent and notify their tenants and the Bond Centre (if a Bond is held) of the agent’s details. The agent does not have to be a professional, and has all the rights of the landlord.
- Tenancy agreements in unit title properties are now subject to body corporate rules and must be notified of any variation of the rules.
- A “10 working days” notice (a notice to remedy a breach of the tenancy) will change to a “14 consecutive days” notice. This means that other party now has 14 consecutive days to fix the problem.
- New rules have been added for termination of a tenancy by notice:
- To issue a 42 days’ notice if the owner of the premises or a member of the owner’s family require the premises as their principal place of residence;
- In the case of the tenant being given less than 90 days’ notice, the notice to terminate must set out the reasons for the termination.
- New rules have been added for landlords dealing with abandoned goods.
- A number of unlawful acts have been added including:
- Failure of the tenant to quit the premises at the end of the tenancy, without reasonable excuse;
- The tenant using the premises for unlawful purposes;
- Exceeding the maximum number of people who may reside at the property;
- Landlord’s failure to comply with their obligations regarding cleanliness, maintenance, or relevant building and health and safety regulations;
- Interference with the supply of services, for example electricity.
In addition to these changes boarding house tenancies are now also covered by the Act.
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