Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 is Now Law!

With all of the discussion around the Healthy Home Standards that came into force on the 1st of July 2019, it came to no surprise that the government rushed through another piece of legislation relating to the rental property industry that had been sitting dormant for over a year.

With so much confusion, anger and angst from many Landlords, Property Managers and Tenants over rental property regulations and enforcement, the Government needed to act swiftly and finalise all outstanding details.

The final piece of the puzzle was the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill, which on the 30th of July gained a Royal Assent and became law.

Today, the 27th of August, the following Amendments will take effect:

  • Liability and responsibility for damage.
  • Methamphetamine and other contaminant regulations.
  • Premises unlawful for residential use.

These amendments set to clarify a few contentious issues that have brought many Landlords and Tenants in front of the Tenancy Tribunal wherein the end, they have left feeling more confused and hard done by.

So what changes with the introduction of the 3 new amendments?

Liability and responsibility for damage

This amendment clarifies that the tenant is now liable for any careless damage that is caused by them, or other people they invite into the property. Ultimately it seeks to remove the precedent set by the infamous ‘Osaki’ ruling whereby, a Landlord was deemed to have been responsible for liability of damage carelessly caused by the Tenant.

The Tenant is now liable for up to 4 weeks of rent, or the excess of the Landlords insurance excess (whichever is lower) to cover damages.

As part of the change, Landlords are now required to provide their insurance details to the Tenant including the excess amounts. If the property is uninsured, the Landlord must disclose this information to the Tenant.

If any changes are made to the insurance, including excess amounts, the Tenant must be notified.

Failure to disclose any insurance information or changes could result in a fine of up to $500.

Methamphetamine and other contaminant regulations.

These regulations are still being developed and are likely to come into force over the next year or so. Prescribing the acceptable level for contamination, processes for testing and decontamination methods are the areas that are being developed.

This Amendment will allow Landlords to test for the presence of methamphetamine while Tenants are living in a premise. 48 hours notice must be given to Tenants before entering the premise or 24 hours for a boarding house Tenant.

If Landlords rent out premises that do happen to be contaminated above the appropriate levels, then they will be liable for a penalty of up to $4000.

Premises unlawful for residential use.

The new amendment now sets a definition for a residential premises. In the past, Tenants who have been living in converted garages, sheds, sleep-outs etc.. have not been able to be covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.

Now, the Residential Tenancies Act will be applicable whether the premises is lawful or not. Therefore, if a space is lived in or intended to be lived in, they will be considered under the Act.

This also gives further powers to the Tenancy Tribunal who can now preside over cases that involve ‘unlawful premises’ and take action over landlords who breach the Residential Tenancies Act through enforcement. Therefore, if a Premises doesn’t meet the minimum required standards for living, a Landlord is liable for damages.

Remember, these changes come into force today (August 27th)!

Are you finding all of the changes too overwhelming and you are struggling to keep up?

What if there was a way to check your compliance with all of the relevant legislation, while at the same time providing a livability report and grading for your property/ies?

Well, luckily there is a solution with the Compliance Pre-Check

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