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Straight into 2021, with law changes on the horizon

By David Kneebone on 2021-01-26

 

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Happy new year from the Lodge City Rentals team! We’re straight back into it for 2021, with the start of the year traditionally a busy time for property management, proven by the 1,089 enquiries we received last week and 50 properties tenanted.

Keeping up with the media over the holiday break, there has been much noise about the bulk of the changes from the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 (RTA), which take effect from 11 February.

Rather than buy into the hype, at Lodge our focus is on how the new laws will create positive changes for the industry while ensuring our portfolio and clients meet the new requirements.

Given the previous Act hadn’t been updated for 35 years, we see the new amendment as a case of legislation catching up with modern day requirements. After all, if someone had started speaking about fibre internet in 1986, we would have given them a funny look! The industry is moving at a fast pace and legislation needs to keep up.

As part of this blog, we’ll recap the changes coming into play next month, then look at some predictions for the industry and property market for 2021.

RTA February changes

While there are several updates on the horizon, we see them all as very manageable. However, with the number of legislation changes over the last few years, it does highlight why it’s good to have a property management firm on your side; we know the changes back-to-front and are happy to guide you through them to ensure compliance.

Taking effect from 11 February, the changes cover:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Making minor property changes – tenants can ask to make changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is deemed ‘minor.’ Landlords must respond to a tenant’s request to make a change within 21 days.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 such an order is successful, or if it is in the public interest.
  7. Assignment of tenancies – all requests to assign or re-assign a tenancy must be considered.
  8. 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.
  9. Enforcement measures being strengthened – MBIE will have new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.
  10. Changes to Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction – the tenancy tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000 (up from $50,000).

We feel the legislation looks evenly upon both parties, tenants and landlords, without favouring one or the other. For example, the security of rental tenure is a positive for both sides; tenants get a feeling of security, and landlords have good tenants in place hopefully for the long-term. It may even lead to tenants for life, much more common overseas where multiple generations of the same family may rent the same home.

Looking to the year ahead

Casting our thoughts towards the year to come, we predict the rental market will continue on its current trajectory with no major upheavals. After all, the only solution to shifting the enquiries vs. properties tenanted statistics we share is more supply to outweigh the demand.

With the law changes that we’ve discussed in this and our blogs over 2020, we feel the next area for legislation to focus on is the regulation of property managers. Ahead of last year’s general election, Labour announced they would introduce a code of conduct for those in the industry, and at Lodge we welcome regulation. All our property managers hold a NZ Certificate in Property Management, and by regulating we can remove the risk unprofessional property managers pose to the reputation of the industry.

Of course, while we have the knowledge to predict what may happen, they’re just that, predictions. After 2020, it feels like a bit of a fraught endeavour! Regardless, we’re looking forward to another year of sharing quality industry insights and welcoming your thoughts.

Until next month,

 

David Kneebone

Director, Lodge City Rentals

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