March News 2019
from the Lisa Steele team

Hope all is well and you’ve enjoyed a great start to the year. For us, it’s been busy as we continue to pump through rental applications and continue with new property management contracts.

In this issue, we also take a look at the upcoming new Residential Tenancy Laws and how they could affect you.

New residential tenancy law amendments

The NSW Government has recently made some fundamental changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. These reforms are set to update and modernise the residential tenancies framework to create a harmonious balance between the needs, rights and obligations of both landlords and their tenants.

Further improvements include improving tenants’ renting experience by making it easier for them to make a rental property a home and easier for landlords to protect their property investments. The changes are also aimed at reducing disputes over repairs and maintenance.

Some of the key amendments are:

Minimum standards

Rented properties will have to meet 7 minimum standards at the start of a tenancy to be fit for habitation. This is not an exhaustive list, but are primary inclusions.

  • Structurally sound property
  • Adequate natural or artificial lighting in each room, except storage rooms or garages
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Supplied with electricity or gas and have adequate electricity or gas outlets for lighting, heating and appliances
  • Adequate plumbing and drainage
  • Connected to a water supply service or infrastructure for the supply of hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning
  • Contains bathroom facilities, including toilet and washing facilities, which allows user privacy.

These standards must be maintained throughout the tenancy (by way of repairs).

Rectification orders

NSW Fair Trading will have new powers to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords over repairs and maintenance and property damage caused by tenants. This will include the ability to issue rectification orders.

Rent increases

Rent increases will be limited to once every 12 months for periodic leases.

Other changes

  1. Mandatory set fees for breaking a fixed-term lease early will be introduced.
  2. The break fee will apply to all new fixed-term leases of 3 years or less that are entered into after the new laws start.
    The break fees are:
    • 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

  3. Streamlining for tenants to get repair orders from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  4. Only landlords can carry out repairs to smoke alarms, except for certain kinds of smoke alarms and repairs.
  5. A penalty will apply for landlords who fail to repair a smoke alarm
  6. A new definition for separately metered premises to reduce disputes between tenants and landlords about who pays for electricity, gas or water usage charges
  7. Clarifying the rules around taking photos and videos during inspections and publishing them to advertise the property for sale or re-lease, especially where the tenant’s possessions are visible
  8. Prohibiting tenancy database operators from charging tenants to access their own personal information held on the database
  9. Penalties to the landlord or agent will be applied if they do not provide a tenant with a property condition report at the start of the tenancy.

    Almost one third of NSW residents now rent their homes, so these amendments are both timely and critical as demand for quality rental properties continues to grow.


    When will the new laws start?

    As yet, no effective start date has been released. As ever, we’re staying on top of the flow of information and will inform you as soon as further details and times are to hand.

    More information is available at New residential tenancy laws.