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RESIDENTIAL TENANCY LAWS

Residential Tenancy Act 2010  & Residential Tenancy Regulation 2010   

BACKGROUND:

  • The Residential Tenancy Act 2010 was passed by Parliament in June 2010 and the associated Regulation was developed and commenced in New South Wales on Monday January 31, 2011.

KEY CHANGES:

  • Notice to vacate a rental property:
    • If a landlord wants to give a tenant notice to vacate a property, without any grounds, and the fixed term lease has ended, the landlord is now required to give the tenant 90 days notice, instead of 60 days. 
    • If a landlord wants to give a tenant notice to vacate a property at the end of a fixed term lease, the landlord must give the tenant 30 days notice, instead of 14 days. This is only applicable if the notice is served prior to the end of the fixed term.                            
  • Rent Arrears and Eviction:
    • If  a tenant is over 14 days in arrears with rent, notice can be given to the tenant to vacate within 14 days. At the same time, an application can be made to the Tribunal for a hearing. This is a time saver, as previously, the 14 days had to pass and then application was made to the Tribunal, if the tenant hadn't made any arrangement or vacated.
    • However, if the tenant does repay all the money, the Tribunal will allow them to stay in the property and not order they vacate - unless they are habitual late payers.
  • Rental Bonds, Lease Fees and Holding Fees:
    • A holding fee can be charged to approved applicants, which is equal to one weeks rent. A holding fee guarantees the property for that approved applicant. If the applicant decides not to go ahead with the lease for the property, then the holding fee is forfeited.
    • A maximum of 4 weeks rent can be charged for the property bond, regardless of the weekly rent or if the property is furnished.
    • The tenant can no longer be charged a $15.00 lease preparation fee 
  • Water Efficiency:
    • If a landlord wants to charge the tenant for water usage, the property must be separately metered and the inside taps and showers heads must be restricted to 9 litres/per minute flow - excluding the bath.   
    • The water usage must be invoiced to the tenant within 3 months of receiving the rates notice
  • Disclosure to Tenants:
    • The tenant must be made aware, prior to applying for a property or signing a lease of:
      • The landlords intention to sell the property, specifically if the landlord has had contracts drawn up for the sale, or that a bank/financier is planning to recover the property
      • Any health/safety issues relating to the property, such as mould, dampness, flooding, bushfires - within the last 5 years
      • Any serious crime or murder that occured at the property
      • Any other relevant information regarding the property that would be relevant information for a tenant    
  • Sale of a Rental Property:
    • A landlord can list their property for sale at any time during the tenancy, but the tenant must be given 14 days notice of this, in writing, and inspections must be worked out between the tenant and the agent. If the tenant will not co-operate with inspection times, the agent will be allowed to have 2 inspections per week, by giving 48 hours notice to the tenant                     
  • Existing Tenancies:
    • The Act applies to existing and future tenancies, although it is not required to have existing tenants sign a new lease               
  • Additional Lease Terms:
    • Landlords are no longer allowed to insist upon carpet shampooing upon vacating a property - unless the tenant has stained the carpets, or the tenant has a pet and agrees at the time of signing the lease that the carpets will shampooed upon vacating      
    • A tenant can no longer be forced to have contents or public liability insurance - it can be recommended only
  • Breaking a Lease:
    • A tenant can break a lease before the end of the fixed term, by agreeing to pay the rent up to the time a new tenant commences and paying any other landlord costs, such as advertising, let fees, GST etc
    • The option is provided now in the lease for the tenant to agree to a one time fee of between 4 to 6 weeks rent - depending on how long the lease has to run and this fee would be fixed, regardless of how long it takes to re-let the property
    • A tenant can break a lease with no penalty, if they are moved to public housing, a nursing home, the property goes on the market for sale and the tenant was never told or the tenant dies or there is legal reason, such as an AVO

OTHER INFORMATION