The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 has taken effect 27 August 2019 and brings with it a raft of changes for tenants and landlords.

Liability for damage
One of the most significant addresses the question of who pays for accidental damage to a rental property.This has been a contentious issue since a court ruled that tenants should be able to rely on their landlords’ insurance – effectively meaning that investors had to carry the cost of any accidental damage.The law change makes tenants liable for an amount equal to four weeks’ rent, or the landlord’s insurance excess, whichever is lower, in any incident of damage.This is an improvement on the current situation for property owners but some say it still doesn’t go far enough. In some cases, insurers regard each instance of damage as a separate event, and charge another excess. Stains on the carpet of four rooms, for example, could generate four excess payments. It will be up to the Tenancy Tribunal to determine how many incidents took place. Insurance companies will not be able to pursue tenants on the landlord’s behalf unless the damage was intentional or due to an unlawful act.

Insurance

Related to this, from August 27, landlords and property managers have to give their new tenants (and any other tenants who ask) their insurance details. This is so tenants can understand what they would need to pay in the event of damage.

If they do not, they can be fined up to $500.

More rules for tenancies in “unlawful” properties such as garages and sleepouts.

At the moment, people who rent a garage or sleepout sometimes do not get the protection of the Residential Tenancies Act.

The change amends the definition of a residential premises so that regardless of whether or not the property is legally allowed to be lived in, tenants can still go to the Tenancy Tribunal and Tenancy Services can take enforcement action.

Contamination

The law allows for new regulations to be developed to prescribe an acceptable level for methamphetamine contamination and processes for testing and decontamination.

This has been a problematic area since the Gluckman report suggested that a “safe” level of contamination was about ten times the current New Zealand Standard.

The new act will allow landlords to test for meth as long as they give 48 hours’ notice that they are entering a property, or 24 hours for a boarding house room.

They will have to tell the tenant what they are testing for and share the results.

 

Source : Stuff