The Residential Tenancies Amendments Act 2020 has now become law.  The main changes come into effect in February 2021.  A summary of the main changes are below.

Effective 12 August 2020

  • Rent increases are limited to once every 12 months.

Effective 11 February 2021

Fixed Term and Periodic Tenancy Agreements

  • Landlords will not be able to end a periodic tenancy without a specific reason. The penalty for not acting under the law is $6500.
  • New termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and required notice periods have changed.
  • If a landlord or family member are moving back into the property a 63 day notice must be issued to the tenant.
  • If a landlord is wanting to put the house on the market and requires the property to be vacant, a 90 day notice must be issued.
  • When a property sells and the new owner requires vacant possession a 90 day notice must be issued.
  • All fixed term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless the parties agree otherwise. Fixed term tenancies now expire so effectively are minimum term tenancies.
  • If the tenant doesn’t want the tenancy to continue at the end of the fixed term but the Landlord does. The tenant must give 28 days notice.

Minor Changes

  • Tenants can ask to make minor changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor. Landlords must respond to the tenant within 21 days.

Fibre Broadband

  • Tenants can request to install fibre broadband and landlords must facilitate this installation at no cost to them.

Prohibitions on rental bidding

  • Rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental (pay more than the advertised rent amount).

Privacy and access to justice

  • A suppression order can remove names and identifying details from published Tenancy Tribunal decisions if a party who has applied for a suppression order is wholly or substantially successful, or if this is in the interests of the parties and the public interest.

Assignment of tenancies

  • All requests to assign a tenancy must be considered. Landlords cannot decline unreasonably. If a residential tenancy agreement prohibits an assignment, it is of no effect.

Landlord records

  • Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing will be an unlawful act and landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information.

Enforcement measures being strengthened

  • The Regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) will have new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.

Changes to Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction

  • The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000. This is a change from $50,000.

Effective 11 August 2021 (but may take effect earlier if the Government agrees)

Family violence

  • Tenants who experience family violence will be able to withdraw from a fixed-term or periodic tenancy without financial penalty by giving two days’ notice and evidence of the family violence. If they are the only tenant, the tenancy will end.

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.

 

For more information on the law changes see:

  1. Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 summary of changes 
  2. Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020  (NZ Legislation website)