Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi says that both renters and landlords will benefit from the suite of practical changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.
The changes sit alongside the Government’s previous reforms to renting, including the banning of letting fees and the Healthy Homes Guarantee.
The key changes include:
- Limit rent increases to once every 12 months and banning the solicitation of rental bids by landlords.
- Improve tenant’s security by removing a landlord’s right to use no cause terminations to end a periodic tenancy agreement.
- Making rental properties safer and more liveable by letting tenants add minor fittings such as brackets to secure furniture against earthquake risk, to baby proof the property, install visual fire alarms and doorbells, and hang pictures.
- Improve compliance with the law by increasing financial penalties and introducing new tools to take direct action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.
“With more and more people renting, the law should provide enough security to responsible renters to put down roots in their community,” Faafoi says.
“Greater security of tenancy and less regular rent increases, coupled with the ability to make minor improvements, mean renters will be better placed to make their house a home.
“One third of all New Zealanders now rent and the previous Government neglected this new reality for nine years. I’ve heard horror stories of families forced to continually move house, damaging their children’s education by constantly changing schools.
According to Faafoi, the changes are balanced and provide certainty to both renters and landlords about their respective roles and responsibilities.
“We understand that landlords require clear guidelines, which help them protect their investment and assist them in their dealings with difficult tenants and the law ensures this. If a tenant acts irresponsibly there can be repercussions.
“These reforms deliver on the Coalition Government’s promise to address out-dated rules for rental accommodation and are part of our plan to improve wellbeing for many New Zealanders who rent their homes. They complete the package of rental market improvements - which include the banning of letting fees and the introduction of the healthy homes minimum standards - planned for the Coalition Government’s first term."
However, the NZ Property Investor Federation is not happy with the changes. NZPIF executive officer Andrew King says they do more than punish landlords - they will punish anyone living next to a tenant with antisocial behaviour.
NZPIF research shows that only 3% of tenants receive a 90-day notice each year and that nearly half of these notices are for antisocial behaviour affecting neighbours. That equates to approximately 7,000 tenants causing problems for up to 70,000 households around New Zealand.
As a result of the announced changes, Government has tried to provide a tool for landlords to manage tenants with antisocial behaviour, but it requires neighbours to put themselves at risk of retaliation from their antisocial neighbours, King says.
"Currently the landlords of any of these 7,000 badly behaving tenants can efficiently end these tenancies without involving the neighbours or the Tenancy Tribunal, by issuing a no cause 90 day notice.
"If these changes go through, neighbours will have to provide three notices to the landlord before the landlord can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for permission to end the tenancy. The neighbours will need to put themselves at risk by providing the landlord with proof of the antisocial behaviour. If neighbours don’t want to do this, landlords cannot move their tenants on and it is the affected neighbours who will have to move."
The tenancy law reforms will be drafted up in a Bill to amend the Residential Tenancies Act , which will be introduced to Parliament in the first part of next year. More information on the reforms can be found here.
Comment: the truth about tenancy terminations
Bad behaviour behind most 90-day notices