Major rental changes in Green Bill
Thursday 27 August 2015
Minimum standards for rental properties are once again being pushed with the launch of a Green Party bill which would also introduce significant changes to tenancy regulations.
By Miriam Bell
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has introduced her Residential Tenancies (Warm, Safe and Secure Rentals) Amendment Bill into Parliament’s Members’ ballot.
Not only does the Bill set minimum standards for warmth, dryness and safety in all rental properties, but it contains a host of changes to tenancy standards and regulations.
• Removing the obligation on tenants to pay leasing fees.
• Setting a default of three years for fixed-term tenancies - while maintaining the provision for both parties to opt out and set the term of their choice.
• Enforcing a 90 day notice period in the event a landlord decides to sell a tenanted property.
• Limiting rent increases to no more than once a year, regardless of tenancy type or term.
• Requiring the formula for calculating any future rent increase be included in tenancy agreement forms.
• Allowing tenants right of renewal on rental agreements
Turei said the changes would encourage more secure, long-term tenancies which would allow people to put down roots in a community and make their rental house a home.
“Rights and responsibilities work both ways – this Bill aims to create more great landlords and more great tenants, and encourage transparency in their relationship and their rental agreement.
“This Bill is going to bring New Zealand rental laws into the 21st century and we expect widespread support for it, should it be pulled from the ballot.”
Minimum standards for rental properties have been a hot topic this year.
This has been due to the deaths of several Housing New Zealand tenants which were, at least partially, linked to the condition of the properties they were living in.
The Government responded by making changes to the Residential Tenancies Act which require landlords to install insulation and smoke alarms in their rental properties.
However, both the Labour Party and the Green Party, along with tenancy advocate groups, felt the changes did not go far enough.
Turei’s Bill is not the first attempt to legislate for minimum standards for all rental properties.
Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford introduced a Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, which would have also enforced a warrant of fitness for rental properties, into Parliament earlier this year.
Twyford’s Bill did not pass its first reading in Parliament.
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