The NSW Parliament has recently passed a list of amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, creating the biggest shake up of rental laws in more than two decades.The reforms are set to provide a better experience and further protection for renters, while also ensuring that landlords are able to protect their investment.
For real estate agencies and property managers, the amendments are set to help manage properties more effectively and provide both owners and tenants a better service.
Let's go through the significant changes brought about by these new set of laws.
Protection for victims of domestic violence
Under the new laws, tenants who are victims of abuse from their partners will be able to terminate their tenancy and without penalty in instances of domestic violence.
Furthermore, landlords will also be prohibited to list a victim of domestic violence in a tenancy database, if the tenancy was terminated due to incidence of domestic violence.
Victims and co-tenants who are not the perpetrator will not also be held accountable for property damage that were due to incidence of domestic violence.
Limits on rental increases
Increases on periodic leases are also now limited to once a year under the new law. This provision especially helps alleviate tenats' fears of retaliatory increases from their landowners.
Also included in the new laws are 7 baseline standards that have to be met at the start of tenancy to be considered fit for habitation.
- Structurally sound property
- Adequate natural or artificial lighting
- Adequate ventilation
- Adequate electricity or gas, with outlets for lighting, heating and appliances.
- Adequate plumbing and drainage
- Access to hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning, supplied by a water supply service or infrastructure.
- Property should contain bathroom facilities - toilet and washing, allowing the user privacy.
Set fees for breaking fixed-term lease
The new laws also introduces mandatory break fees for fixed-term lease agreements equal to 3 years or less:
- 4 weeks’ rent if 75% or more of the lease remains
- 3 weeks’ rent if between 50% and 75% of the lease remains
- 2 weeks’ rent if between 25% and 50% of the lease remains
- 1 week’s rent if 25% or less of the lease remains
Included in the amendment is the ability of NSW Fair Trading to issue rectification orders. This is part of the new powers given to NSW Fair Trading to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords over repairs, maintenance and property damages.
Property condition reports
Property owners and agents take note: the amendments also introduces a penalty for the landlord or agent in the instance that they do not provide a tenant with a property condition report at the start of the tenancy.
For more information on the new residential tenancy laws and a full list of the amendments, you may visit the NSW Fair Trading website.