Otago Daily Times

Change shifts tenantland­lord balance

Changes in tenancy regulation­s


WELLINGTON: Powerful new tenancy regulation­s which advocates say will shift the balance of power between landlord and tenant swept into effect yesterday.

Gone is the ability for landlords to encourage bidding wars or end tenancies with no reason. In come rules which make it easier for renters to decorate their homes.

‘‘The changes coming through are enormous,’’ Property Investors Federation executive officer Sharon Cullwick said.

‘‘They're enormous for landlords; they're enormous for tenants as well.’’

The law was passed in August and is being implemente­d in three phases. The second — and by far the largest phase — began yesterday.

Landlords will need a proper reason when they end someone’s periodic tenancy.

All fixedterm tenancy agreements will automatica­lly move on to a periodic tenancy, unless otherwise agreed. Tenants can make minor changes (painting walls, hanging pictures etc)

Associate Minister of Housing Poto Williams said the changes meant rental laws were now fit for the times, for the first time in a generation.

‘‘This Government believes the updated rental laws now provide adequate protection­s for both tenants and landlords,’’ she said.

The changes which came into effect yesterday are aimed at providing more security and power for tenants.

The change which excited and landlords can’t refuse.

Rental property adverts must show a price, to avoid bidoffs between renters driving prices up.

Tenants can request fibre broadband, and if of no added cost to landlords, they can’t refuse.

Successful applicants at the Tenancy

Nelsonbase­d renter Brenda Mary the most was the right for tenants to make their house a home.

‘‘When you hear a lot of the tenancy issues being discussed, owning a rental property is sort of seen as a business; living in a rental property is a home.

‘‘I think people are going to take more care of a building that's their home, and they've actually got an emotional investment in.’’

Tribunal can now apply to have name suppressio­n so they won’t be blackliste­d

Landlords must consider all tenancy assignment requests, and not decline them unreasonab­ly.

Landlords must provide a tenancy agreement in writing.

Ms Cullwick said the ending of 90day nocause terminatio­ns was worrying owners.

‘‘It is the landlord's property, after all. So that's a big change, because it's going to be very hard to remove a tenant, unless it's antisocial behaviour, or certain things they've stipulated.’’

She said the justintrod­uced changes would have a knockon effect for what she called ‘‘marginal tenants’’, who landlords would not want to take on if they

The regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) will be granted new powers to take action against parties not meeting their obligation.

The Tenancy Tribunal can now impose fines of up to $100,000 up from the previous $50,000 maximum.

could not remove them easily.

Overall, she agreed the reforms were a move in the right direction — but she did not want any more.

‘‘They need to let the dust settle.

‘‘There's a lot of changes that have come through in the last few years.’’

But with the average rental price up 4% on last year, one renter — who wished to remain anonymous — said yesterday’s changes would not fix affordabil­ity.

‘‘It's just a little tiny BandAid on a giant big gaping wound.

‘‘That's not going to really solve the deeprooted issue, that greed in this country over housing has just taken off basically. It's just out of control.’’

She said the Residentia­l Tenancies Act (RTA) was failing renters.

‘‘The RTA needs a massive overhaul, because it still doesn't account for the fact that free market forces are in play.

‘‘We talk about things like market rent. What does that even mean? Who determines that?’’

The final phase of the reforms will come in on August 11. — RNZ

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