Rental reforms a step closer with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill

Today the Government is making progress on a fairer and more secure rental market for renters and landlords with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill in Parliament. 

“This Bill includes a series of reforms to improve the wellbeing of the 609,700 households that live in rented homes, and they provide a balance between the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords,” Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi said.

The Bill, first announced in November 2019, implements the changes to modernise New Zealand’s rental laws and align them with the present-day realities of renting in New Zealand. 

“In selecting these changes, we have been mindful of the need to modernise the law and correct problems in a way which is proportionate, places reasonable requirements on landlords and tenants that can provide both parties with certainty,” Kris Faafoi said.

“These changes get that balance right. They will build on the gains we have already made to ensure that rental properties are warm, dry and safe. They will provide a higher level of security to tenants, and ensure that landlords continue to have the tools they need to manage their assets and provide a high quality of service to their tenants,” he said.

As announced on 17 November 2019, the changes will:

  • Improve tenant’s security by requiring the use of a justified reason to end a periodic tenancy, including new provisions to respond to anti-social behaviour and removing the use of no cause terminations to end a periodic tenancy agreement.
  • Flatten the inflated demand that has been created in some regions by tenancies all ending at the same time by mandating that fixed-term tenancy agreements must become periodic tenancy agreements upon expiry unless both parties agree otherwise, or certain conditions apply.
  • Improve compliance with the law by increasing financial penalties and giving the Regulator new tools to take direct action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.
  • Remove a disincentive for parties to use the Tenancy Tribunal by allowing for identifying details to be anonymised in situations where a party has been wholly or substantially successful in taking a case.
  • Make rental properties safer and more liveable by ensuring that tenants can add minor changes, such as brackets to secure furniture and appliances against earthquake risk, baby proof the property, install visual fire alarms and doorbells and hang pictures.
  • Prohibit the solicitation of rental bids by landlords and limit rent increases to once every 12 months.

The Bill also includes additional ultra-fast broadband proposals to:

  • Improve the process for the installation of fibre in rental properties by requiring landlords to permit and facilitate the installation of Ultra-Fast Broadband, subject to specific triggers and exemptions.

New Zealanders have already seen the removal of letting fees, and the introduction of Healthy Homes Standards to provide adequate insulation, heating and ventilation, which will require compliance from 1 July 2021.

“This Government considers that every New Zealander should have a safe, warm, dry home to call their own – especially if they’re renting,” Kris Faafoi said.

For more information on the Residential Tenancies Act reform visit the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development’s website: [link to come]

Notes to Editors:

The Government has a comprehensive plan of initiatives to fix the housing crisis we inherited which includes:

  • Banning letting fees
  • Healthy home standards requiring all rental properties meet the standards for insulation, heating and drainage to make life better for renters
  • Establishing Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities which plays a key role in providing tenancy services to public housing tenants, prioritise tenant wellbeing, and provide good quality, warm, dry and healthy homes. Kāinga Ora will partner to deliver urban development projects of all sizes to provide a mix of public, affordable and market housing.
  • Banning foreign speculators from buying existing New Zealand homes, to ensure that Kiwi families are not priced out of the market.
  • Committing significant new funding through Budget 2018 to public housing construction, by a combination of $234 million in operating funding and $2.9 billion of borrowing through Housing NZ/Kainga Ora, for an additional 6,400 public housing places by June 2022 in order to meet emerging demand. In 2018/19 we exceeded the target of 1,600 places with 2,178 public houses becoming available with 1,601 of these places being new builds. Between 1 November 2017 and 30 September 2019, the total number of Public Housing places increased by 3,381, of which 2,752 were new builds.
  • First time home buyers now have more options with the Government making $400 million available to support more New Zealanders into home ownership by increasing support for progressive home ownership schemes. The deposit required for a Government-backed mortgage has reduced to 5%, and family and friends can each use their $10,000 First Home Grant and their KiwiSavers to buy their first home together.