Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 – Summary of Changes

Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 – Summary of Changes

Landlords and tenants need to understand the recent changes to tenancy law and how this will affect them.

All landlords, including boarding house landlords, must comply with various legal obligations as governed by the Residential Tenancies Act (the Act). Starting from August 2020 through to August 2021, parts of the Act are being changed by the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill.

The changes are taking effect at three key dates:
Phase 1: 12 August 2020
Phase 2: 11 February 2021
Phase 3: By 11 August 2021

Phase 1 – law changes take effect 12 August 2020

Transitional and emergency housing exempt from the Act

From 12 August 2020, transitional and emergency housing will be exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act where the housing is:

  • funded (wholly or partly) by a government department, or
  • provided under the Special Needs Grants Programme .

This exemption is applicable for all people (new and existing clients) in transitional and emergency housing that meets the criteria above.
Rent can only be increased every 12 months From 12 August 2020, rent increases are limited to once every 12 months. This is a change from once every 180 days (six months).

Phase 2 – law changes take effect 11 February 2021

Changes to multiple parts of tenancy law

From 11 February 2021, multiple changes to tenancy legislation will take effect. The changes will cover:

Security of rental tenure – Landlords will not be able to end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice. New termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods will change.

Changes for fixed-term tenancies – All fixed-term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless the parties agree otherwise, the tenant gives a 28-day notice, or the landlord gives notice in accordance with the termination grounds for periodic tenancies.

Making minor changes – Tenants can ask to make changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor.
Landlords must respond to a tenant’s request to make a change within 21 days.

Prohibitions on rental bidding – Rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental (pay more than the advertised rent amount).

Fibre broadband – Tenants can request to install fibre broadband, and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them, unless specific exemptions apply.

Privacy and access to justice – A suppression order can remove names and identifying details from published Tenancy Tribunal decisions if a party who has applied for a suppression order is wholly or substantially successful, or if this is in the interests of the parties and the public interest.

Assignment of tenancies – All requests to assign a tenancy must be considered. Landlords cannot decline unreasonably. If a residential tenancy agreement prohibits assignment, it is of no effect.

Landlord records – Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing will be an unlawful act and landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information.

Enforcement measures being strengthened – The Regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) will have new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.

Changes to Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction –The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000. This is a change
from $50,000.

Phase 3 – law changes take effect by 11 August 2021

Tenancies can be terminated if family violence or landlord assault has occurred

The below provisions must come into effect by 11 August 2021, but may come in earlier if the Government agrees (using an Order in Council):

Family violence: tenants experiencing family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy without financial penalty.
Physical assault: a landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of the assault.

Although most of the changes will apply to existing tenancies, there are some exceptions to be aware of for tenancies granted before the main commencement date of 11 February 2021:

Assignments – while the new law provides that tenancy agreements cannot prohibit the assignment of a tenancy, this rule does not apply to tenancy agreements granted before the law comes into effect.

Termination of fixed-term tenancies – for all fixed-term tenancies granted before the main commencement date, the old rules for
ending tenancies apply. The new rules for terminating fixed-term tenancies will only apply to fixed-term tenancies granted after the main commencement date. A tenancy is granted when it is agreed, which is likely to be before the tenancy start date e.g., if a fixed-term agreement was granted in 2020 and ends in November 2021, the tenancy can be terminated at the expiry of the fixed-term without the landlord providing a specific reason and by the tenant providing just 21 days’ notice.

N.B: Harcourts property managers have attended training on the amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act and will continue to upskill to ensure that we are delivering the best possible service to our valued clients.

Getting A Premium for Selling Your Property With A Real Estate Agent

Premium for selling your house with an agent at highest point in 18 years, says REINZ

Getting A Premium for Selling Your Property With A Real Estate Agent

Getting A Premium for Selling Your Property With A Real Estate Agent

Analysis of private sales compared to those using an agent recently conducted by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ), has shown that home-owners who use a real estate agent to sell their home can expect to get on average 15% more for the property than they would by selling it privately.

This is the highest level of premium we’ve seen in 18 years, with the premium having slowly increased over the last few years from 8% back in 2015, lifting to 11% in 2016, 12% in 2017, dropped to 5% in 2018, 6% in 2019 and has now risen to 15% in 2020 highlighting the true value an agent can bring to the process of selling your property.

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at REINZ says: “One of the questions we get asked time and time again is ‘will I get more for my house through an agent rather than if I sell it myself?’. This analysis shows that overall, the answer is yes – although the premium does vary depending on where you are in the country.

“Whilst REINZ is the industry body for real estate agents around the country and could therefore be accused of being biased towards agents, as an organisation we have never argued for a ‘closed shop’ and believe that people should have choice when it comes to choosing how they want to sell their property – and indeed some do,” points out Norwell.

“This research is just about providing people with the data on using an agent compared to selling themselves so that they can make an informed decision,” she continues.

The research also highlighted that we’ve seen a decrease in the percentage of people choosing to sell their property privately. Over the years, the data has fluctuated, with private sales making up 23% of all sales in 2014, 20% in 2017, 20% in 2018 and down to 14% in 2020.

“Selling privately works perfectly for those who have the time, inclination, expertise and patience to do so, however, for example, if you’re a busy family where both parents work full time, then it might be better to utilise the skills and expertise of an agent,” says Norwell.

Interestingly, the majority of people who sell privately sell by negotiation, suggesting that perhaps the use of auction as a marketing/sales technique could be one additional reason for the premium.

“Our advice to those who are considering selling privately is to gain an independent valuation, don’t sign anything that hasn’t been approved by your legal adviser and don’t be afraid to walk away if you feel uncomfortable with the process – it’s your house and your call,” concludes Norwell.

In addition to the price premium, there are many advantages dealing with a licenced real estate agent. Some of the skills and advantages an agent can bring to the sales transaction include:

  • Legal protections for vendors
  • significant experience in a sales environment and agents must undergo approved education requirements that focus on their professional conduct
  • proven marketing expertise including access to experts in their teams who have training in social media, marketing or advertising
  • excellent negotiating skills – it can be very awkward talking to strangers about money, but agents have extensive training in negotiation skills
  • a wide network of contacts including buyers waiting for properties to come to market
  • access to the power of their agency’s selling network.

They are also obliged to act in the best interests of their client and have the market knowledge and networks to ensure their clients get the best possible price – or, at the very least, fair market value.

Licensed agents also have to follow a professional code of conduct and are bound by the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, which provides extensive protection mechanisms for people who deal with agents such as being legally required to have in-house complaints and dispute resolution procedures, If a buyer or seller is unable to resolve an issue directly with their agent, they can contact the Real Estate Authority, which is able to address complaints against agents.

By REINZ December 14, 2020

Getting A Premium for Selling Your Property With A Real Estate Agent

Getting A Premium for Selling Your Property With A Real Estate Agent