Power to the people?

by Natalie Robinson and Alice Chapman

Change is coming for the 1.5 million people currently renting their home in New Zealand. Amendments proposed to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) will put more power in the hands of tenants.

Currently, when a landlord wishes to end a non-fixed-term (periodic) tenancy agreement, they must provide 90 days’ notice to the tenant.

They do not need to give a reason or explain why they wish to end the tenancy.

The notice period is only 42 days if the landlord needs to use the property for themselves, their family or their employee, or the property has been sold and must be vacated.

Under the proposed changes to the RTA, landlords will no longer be able to do this.

They MUST provide a reason to validly terminate the agreement. The permissible reasons are listed in the act and include:

The landlord intends to sell or alter the property

The tenant has had to be issued with notices of anti-social behaviour on three separate occasions within a 90-day period AND, the landlord has applied to the tenancy tribunal to end the tenancy, or

The tenant has been at least five days late on rent payments on three separate occasions within a 90-day period AND the landlord has applied to the tenancy tribunal to end the tenancy.

Extensions are also proposed to the standard notice periods for ending a tenancy if a landlord requires the property for themselves, their family or employee (63 days), or if the property has been sold (90 days).

The revised RTA would also give more power to tenants when it comes to ending fixed-term tenancies, and loosen the rules around installing fixtures and safety equipment into rented accommodation, to allow tenants to feel more at home in their properties.

The proposed changes to the RTA will have a significant impact on both tenants and landlords — but it is not too late to have your say.

For further details and to get help making a submission on the law, visit wrmk.co.nz/news/changes-proposed-to-the-rta/.