Archive | Legislation

Parliament signs off key money bill

The Residential Tenancies (Prohibiting Letting Fees) Amendment Bill went through Parliament’s third reading stage on Wednesday, and now awaits royal assent.

The bill amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to prohibit the charging of a letting fee, or any other fee charged to a tenant, in respect of charges for services rendered by a letting agent, solicitor, or any person in relation to a tenancy.

It doesn’t apply to existing letting fees – or key money.

The Real Estate Institute warned that the prohibition might lead to an increase in rental prices in the long run.

The institute said in its submission to the select committee that, while the ban would reduce fees upfront, “which contradicts the purpose of the ban, which is to reduce costs and improve fairness for tenants”.

Institute chief executive Bindi Norwell added: “Additionally, our concern is that it may make tenants with shorter-term tenancy requirements, such as students or seasonal workers, less attractive to landlords, making it harder for them to obtain rental accommodation.

“We’ve said this before, but we think a better way to look after renters is to regulate the property management industry rather than focusing on smaller issues such as banning letting fees. We don’t want New Zealand to continue to be an outlier – instead we need to follow the good example set by countries including Australia, the UK, Republic of Ireland, the US & Canada, and ensure that our property market is regulated. This is one of the key ways we can ensure that we’re improving the lives of renters.”

Along with that suggestion, she listed the numerous other legislative changes facing landlords:

    • Removing insulation grants and instead making them available only to low-income families
    • Extending the notice period a landlord must give from 42 days to 90 days
    • Introducing the Healthy Homes legislation, which comes into force on 1 July 2019, providing for landlords to face a $4000 fine if they don’t meet the requirements on time – “yet there is still no clarity on what is required under this legislation, giving landlords less than a year to meet the new requirement”
    • Ending the cancellation of tenancies without cause, and
    • Limiting rent increases to once a year.

Attribution: Parliament, institute release.

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Residential Tenancies Amendment Act in effect from 1 October

Published 10 September 2010

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act will take effect from Friday 1 October, updating legislation that has governed the residential rental market since 1986.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley said on Wednesday key changes to the act included clearer & fairer process for terminating tenancies, new financial penalties for tenants who harass neighbours and extension of the Tenancy Tribunal’s powers.

Other changes that clarify the rights & obligations of landlords & tenants include amendments to the rules for letting fees, absent landlords, notices to remedy breaches of the act and unlawful acts.

Earlier stories:

21 July 2010: Amended Residential Tenancies Act passed

20 February 2009: Heatley announces review of review of tenancy law


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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Amended Residential Tenancies Act passed

Published 21 July 2010

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill received its third reading in Parliament on Tuesday and the new act should come into force from 1 October.


Housing Minister Phil Heatley said today the changes to the act included clearing up confusing processes around terminating & renewing tenancies and introducing new financial penalties of up to $2000 for tenants harassing neighbours, or up to $3000 for landlords providing sub-standard housing.


The act has been extended to cover boarding houses.


Link: Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill


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Attribution: Ministry & ministerial releases, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Heatley announces review of review of tenancy law

Published 20 February 2009

Housing Minister Phil Heatley said yesterday he was reviewing aspects of Labour’s Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2).


The previous Government began consultation on the bill in 2004 and introduced it to Parliament last May.  It was intended to clarify the rights & responsibilities of tenants & landlords.


Mr Heatley said: "This bill is well intentioned in that it aims to encourage stable tenancies in homes which are well looked after, while enabling landlords to better manage them. However, concerns have been raised about some specific provisions of the bill & matters for which provision was not made, particularly:


·         the absence of proposals allowing for decisive action to be taken to deal with assaults, or threats of assault, by tenants’ guests or associates

·         proposals that will ensure landlords are not hit with the costs of damages done by tenants and those they invite into their homes

·         ensuring that the Tenancy Tribunal doesn’t become an uneven, expensive & time-consuming forum through the introduction of professional advocates

·         clarity around the legal status of a tenancy once the original tenant passes on (inherited tenancies).”


Mr Heatley said the Government would also reconsider the proposal to stop real estate agents charging letting fees.


"As housing minister, I have to be satisfied that what has been drafted appropriately balances the rights & obligations of both tenants & landlords. While I am comfortable with many aspects of the bill, I am concerned that some specific provisions may deter future provision of private rental housing. This is of particular concern given predicted growth in housing demand.


"Consequently, I have asked that these specific aspects of the bill be considered with swift & targeted consultation. I know tenants & landlords are keenly awaiting reform to tenancy laws and I am determined to return legislation in a timely manner."


Mr Heatley said other key provisions in the bill that National supported were:


·         extending the protection of the existing act to boarding houses

·         clarifying responsibility for outgoings

·         introducing clearer processes for terminating & reviewing tenancies

·         encouraging landlords & tenants to comply with their obligations

·         providing for the majority of tenancy disputes to be resolved quickly, fairly & cost-effectively, and

·         improving the enforceability of Tenancy Tribunal orders.


Website: Residential Tenancies Act review


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Attribution: Ministerial release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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