Big changes for rental laws announced
The government has announced a suite of practical changes to the Residential Tenancies Act in its bid to make renting fairer and more secure. Here’s what you need to know.
A number of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) has just been announced by associate minister of housing Kris Faafoi.
The RTA is essentially the law that outlines the responsibilities all landlords and tenants have in New Zealand. For example, under the RTA, landlords have to make sure the property is in a reasonable condition while tenants have to make sure they pay the rent on time.
Key changes include:
Why are these changes necessary?
If you’ve rented at all in the last few years, you’ll know why. For one, rent prices have become increasingly unaffordable for a lot of New Zealanders, especially in places like Auckland and Wellington where rent prices have gone up significantly in the last decade. But it’s not just a city problem anymore with rent in several regions, such as Hamilton, hitting all-time highs this year as more people look for options outside the country’s main centres.
Rental bidding has been another controversial practice that has come up since the demand for houses has increased. In 2018, we reported that in Wellington landlords were explicitly operating tender processes on their rentals in a bid to drive up prices, with one landlord requiring tenants to submit the maximum they’d be willing to pay above and beyond the listed price as the house was in ‘high demand’.
No cause evictions have also been a sticking point because of the high level of insecurity that engenders, especially for families who have children at school and are forced to move to an entirely new area. “While renting used to be something that was temporary, more and more New Zealanders are spending longer – even lifetimes – in rental homes,”.
In a statement, Faafoi also acknowledged this saying that “one-third of all New Zealanders now rent and the previous government neglected this new reality for nine years. I’ve heard horror stories of families forced to continually move house, damaging their children’s education by constantly changing schools.”
Housing insecurity has also been acutely felt as a result of landlords wanting to sell or move into the property themselves.
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