A summary of the latest legislative changes for landlords and tenants was recently prepared by REISA, extracts from this are below.
For the full description of all changes highlighted in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2013 please click here. If you have any questions regarding the bill you can free call REISA QUERY CONNECT on 1800 804 365. (The bill was passed in May 2013. The amendments to the RTA will come into operation on day to be fixed by proclamation.)
- Written guide to be provided to tenant prior to entering agreement. A landlord must not enter into a residential tenancy agreement unless the landlord / agent has given the tenant a written guide in the form approved by the commissioner (yet to be developed). Maximum penalty: $2,500. Expiation fee: $210
- Discrimination on basis of children. Section 52 of the RTA state that a person must not refuse to grant a tenancy to another on the ground that it is intended that a child live on the premises. Section 52 also specifically relates to landlords who "instruct" a person not grant a tenancy or state an intention not to grant a tenancy on these grounds. Maximum penalty (in relation to each provision) has increased from $1000 to $2500.
- Landlord information changes must be communicated within time limits. If any of the information required in section 48 changes, the landlord must within 14 days notify the tenant in writing of the change. Maximum penalty: $1250. Expiation fee: $210.
- Landlord's obligations to keep records. Under the new s57 requirements, landlords must keep/record the following information in relation to all payments received under the agreement: the date on which the payment was received, the name of the person making the payment, the amount paid, the address of the premises to which the payment relates, if the payment is for rent - the period of the tenancy to which the payment relates, if the payment is a bond - a statement of that fact, if the payment is not for rent or a bond - a description of the purpose of the payment, including, if applicable, the period of time to which the payment relates.
- A landlord must keep a copy of any written residential tenancy agreement and any variation of the agreement for at least 2 year following termination of the agreement. Maximum penalty: $2500. Expiation fee: $210.
- Termination because possession is required: Stricter penalties for falsely stating the grounds for termination because possession is required. Increased maximum penalty from $200 to $2500.
- Water accounts: introduction of default provision where no agreement exists. RTA allows rates and charges for water supply to be borne as agreed between the parties however, where no agreement exists: if the supply of water to the premises is separately metered - it is to be borne by the tenant; and in any other case - it is to be borne by the landlord. This is subject to the following conditions: a tenant will not be liable for water account if requested information is not provided: if the payment is not requested within 3 months of the issue of the account or the tenant has requested a copy of the account and the landlord has failed to provide within 30 days of the request and at no cost.
- Tenant must be given a copy of the residential tenancy agreement when the tenant signs it. Maximum penalty $5000. Expiation fee: $315.
- If a tenant pays rent, the person who receives the rent must, within 48 hours after receiving the rent, give the tenant a receipt setting out the information required to be recorded. Maximum penalty $2500. Expiation fee $210.
- New requirements for dealing with abandoned property: Failure to deal with abandoned property as dictated by the new RTA requirements will be an offence attracting a maximum penalty of $2,500.
- Many of the provisions relating to right of entry require the entry to occur within "normal hours". Normal hours means the hours between 8am and 8pm on any day other than Sunday or a public holiday.
- Landlord must advise prospective tenant of intention to sell if a landlord has advertised the premises for sale or intends to advertise the premises for sale or entered into a sales agency agreement to sell the premises.
- To carry out necessary maintenance or repairs, only at a time within normal hours of which the tenant has been given at least 48 hours notice.
- Stricter penalties for requiring more than 1 bond or requiring bond exceeding the "relevant limit". Increased maximum penalty form $1000 to $5000. Maximum bond limits still apply - 4 weeks and 6 week maximum depending on rent amount.
- New notice requirement to end fixed term tenancy: Both parties are required to give at least 28 days notice to end a fixed term tenancy with no grounds.