New Renting Rules
Ah the lot of the lowly tenant. At the mercy of the evil landlord; evicted if they fall behind in their rent, kept in the dark about important information affecting the property (such as that its for sale), not even able to put up picture hooks. Able to have their tenancy ended by notice from the landlord without a reason; their rent increased, and obliged to steam clean the carpets when they leave.
Although an estimated one in four NSW residents rent, the laws surrounding residential tenancy have been a little murky, providing little real security for tenants.
But thats about to change.
On 31st January the new Residential Tenancies Act commences. It aims to make things clearer and fairer for both tenants and landlords.
Among the key changes are those relating to the lease and bond. Before a tenant signs a lease they will now be entitled to know information about the property, such as if it has been vulnerable to a flood or bushfire, or is currently on the market. Landlords and agents can no longer charge a fee to prepare the rental contract, and the bond cant be any more than 4 weeks rent.
Tenants cant be asked to pay more than two weeks rent in advance, and will have more scope to make minor alterations to the property, such as hooking up pay TV. A landlord will have to give 30 days notice if they want the tenant to move out when the fixed contract ends; 90 days if the fixed contract has already ended (up from 60 days).
If a tenant falls behind in their rent, they can avoid eviction by offering to pay the landlord the full amount owing, or agreeing to a repayment plan. The landlord must accept.
And tenants no longer have to steam clean the carpet when they move out, unless theyve left it in bad condition.
For landlords, a positive change includes being able to get an immediate termination order from the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) if a tenant threatens or intimidates them, or uses the premises for illegal activities. And a break fee can now be included in the lease, payable by the tenant if they break the lease early.
In all, there are over 100 changes to the Act. While some argue that the NSW Government hasnt gone far enough, it seems clear that any change is an improvement to the outdated laws enacted some twenty years ago.
As with any legislation overhaul there will most certainly be teething problems. Some will no doubt seek out the loopholes. And the CTTT may well find itself swamped with enquiries and claims.
But the new laws do add a level of security and certainty for all parties.