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Rental Reforms Progress To Select Committee Stage

The Government continues to make progress on a fairer and more secure rental market for renters and landlords with the First Reading of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill and its referral to the Social Services and Community Select Committee.

“Now is the opportunity for landlords, tenants and others who want to have their say on the Bill to do so through the select committee,” Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi said.

“This Bill includes a series of reforms to improve the wellbeing of the 609,700 households that live in rented homes, and to provide a balance between the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords,” Kris Faafoi said.

The changes in the Bill recognise that more New Zealanders are in rental accommodation for longer periods. In 1986, about 25 percent of the population lived in rental accommodation. That number is now about 32 percent of the population. 26 percent of children under 15 years-old lived in rental accommodation in 1986, compared to about 43 percent now.

“In selecting these changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA), we have been mindful of the need to modernise the law and correct problems in a way which is proportionate and places reasonable requirements on landlords and tenants which can provide both parties with certainty,” Kris Faafoi said.

“These changes get that balance right. They will build on the gains we have already made to ensure that rental properties are warm, dry and safe. They will provide a higher level of security to tenants, and ensure that landlords continue to have the tools they need to manage their assets and provide a high quality of service to their tenants,” he said.

The proposed changes were announced on 17 November 2019. They include allowing the Tenancy Tribunal to keep identifying details of parties in claims anonymous in situations where a party has been wholly or substantially successful in taking a case.

“This should remove the disincentive for tenants who are reluctant to enforce their rights in case they are ‘blacklisted’ by future landlords,” Kris Faafoi said.

Other changes help smooth the end of tenancies. The reforms allow for assignment of fixed-term tenancies.

The Bill also requires landlords to disclose the details of any break-lease fee charged. This allows tenants to ensure that the fees are reasonable.

“New Zealanders have already seen the removal of letting fees, and the introduction of Healthy Homes Standards to provide adequate insulation, heating and ventilation, which will require compliance from 1 July 2021.

“This Government considers that every New Zealander should have a safe, warm, dry home to call their own – including if they’re renting.

“I look forward to seeing the Bill progress through the select committee process as we take another important step towards updating and balancing the rules and conditions around New Zealand’s rental market,” Kris Faafoi said.

More information on the Residential Tenancies Act reforms is available here

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