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New Tenancy Laws Passed in Parliment

By Liam O'Boyle

Media Statement, Hon Phil Heatley, Minister of Housing, 20 July 2010

Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act passed by Parliament today will better meet the needs of landlords and tenants in today’s rental market, Housing Minister Phil Heatley says.

The changes to the Act include clearing up confusing processes around terminating and renewing tenancies, and introducing new financial penalties for tenants harassing neighbours of up to $2,000, or for landlords providing sub-standard housing of up to $3,000.

“These changes respond to significant change in the residential renting market since the first Act’s inception in 1986,” Mr Heatley says.

The Act has also been extended to cover boarding houses. This means that tenants who have never had any protection or certainty of week to week accommodation will now have access to the full range of tenancy services.

“Boarding house landlords will now generally be required to give tenants 28 days notice that a tenancy is being terminated. The Tenancy Tribunal will also be able to order boarding house landlords to carry out necessary repairs or maintenance,” Mr Heatley says.

“Over recent years, the private rental market has been increasingly important in housing those who choose, or need, to rent their homes for lifestyle or affordability reasons.

“It is therefore imperative the legislation governing the sector supports adequate provision of stable, good quality rental housing,” he says.

Key changes to the Act include:

  • Clearer and fairer processes for terminating and renewing tenancies, including clarifying what happens when a fixed-term tenancy expires and the process for terminating a tenancy due to non-payment of rent and other breaches;
  • Measures to encourage landlords and tenants to comply with their obligations under the Act;
  • Enhancements to dispute resolution, including increasing the monetary jurisdiction of the Tenancy Tribunal from $12,000 to $50,000, so that most tenancy disputes can be resolved quickly, fairly and cost effectively;
  • Improvements to the enforceability of Tenancy Tribunal orders.

The new laws will come into force later this year once supporting regulations have been approved and published.

For more information, visit the Department of Building and Housing website at www.dbh.govt.nz/rta-review or phone 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262)

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