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Amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986

The way we work and live has changed immensely since 1986, the days when:

  • There were no mobile phones
  • True Colours by Cindy Lauper was the number one song
  • The Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened
  • Space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after take off 
  • "Hands across America" raises $50 million to fight hunger and homelessness
  • Canaries in British coal mines are replaced by carbon monoxide detectors

So after a very lengthy review process the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010 has been passed and changes come into law from 1 October 2010. The changes appear to be a fair balance between the needs of tenants for a suitable home and the needs of landlords and their agents to effectively manage their portfolios.

While there are many amendments some of the key points to note are:

  • Fixed term Tenancies - Previously if no agreement was made prior to the conclusion of a fixed term contract the tenancy entered a ‘limbo' period where either party could effectively terminate the tenancy with no notice. From 1 October if neither party gives notice the tenancy reverts to a periodic term.
  • Letting Fees - Previously letting fees could only be charged by licenced Real Estate Companies or lawyers/solicitors. Letting fees can now be charged by all property managers
  • Agent for Landlord Overseas - If a landlord is going to be overseas for 21 consecutive days or more, they must appoint an agent and notify and transfer the bond, with the Department of Building and Housing.
  • Address for Service - An alternative address for service can now be an email, PO Box or fax number
  • Body Corporate Rules - These form part of the tenancy agreement and as such must be attached to the agreement.
  • Notices to remedy - Previously notices to remedy any breach of the tenancy agreement were 10 working days (plus time for service). Notices to remedy are now 14 consecutive days (plus time for service)
  • Abandoned goods - new rules have been set out for the disposal of abandoned goods
  • Terminating a tenancy - Landlords must now provide a reason if they terminate a tenancy and are giving less than 90 day's notice.
  • Unlawful Acts - a number of unlawful acts have been added, including interference of services and exceeding the maximum number of allowed occupants. Penalties have been introduced/increased for such breaches of the Tenancy agreement.

If you require any more information on the amendments, please visit the Department of Building and Housing website www.dbh.govt.nz or feel free to contact our office.