Law changes to the Residential Tenancies Act are now in force. Key information about some of the new changes:
- From 1 July landlords will need to have working smoke alarms installed in all their residential rental homes. Any replacement alarms installed after that date will need to have long life batteries and a photoelectric sensor. Hardwired smoke alarms are also permitted.
- Tenants will be responsible for replacing worn-out batteries in the smoke alarms and informing their landlord of any defects.
- All residential rental homes in New Zealand will be required to have insulation to keep a home warm in winter and cool in summer. Social housing (where tenants pay an income related rent) must be insulated by 1 July 2016 and all other rental homes by July 2019.
- Landlords are required to provide a statement on the tenancy agreement for any new tenancy commencing 1 July 2016 about the location, type and condition of insulation in the rental home.
- Installing conductive foil insulation in residential and rental homes is now banned.
Tenancy abandonment process
- The new law introduces an expedited process for a landlord to regain possession of their rental property when the property has been abandoned.
- The expedited process for regaining possession will enable a Tenancy Adjudicator to decide the case based on evidence landlords have provided in their expedited abandonment application. Landlords will not need to be present when the Adjudicator considers the evidence under this new process.
- The Tenancy Tribunal Application Online form has been updated to include the new expedited abandonment process.
Enhanced enforcement function
- The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have greater enforcement powers, including investigating and taking proceedings to the Tribunal on behalf of the tenant, even without the tenant’s consent.
- It is now an unlawful act for a landlord to end a tenancy in retaliation for a tenant exercising a right under the tenancy agreement, the relevant law, or by making a complaint relating to the tenancy. This is called a ‘retaliatory notice’ under the Residential Tenancies Act. Tenants who take direct action against landlords will now be able to challenge an alleged retaliatory notice up to 28 working days after it has been issued.