NEWS: New tenancy laws and what they mean for you

By Emily Heyward

You can’t get the boot from your flat without reason anymore. 

New laws came into effect last month in what was the biggest shake-up of tenancy laws in more than three decades. 

Parliament passed a raft of changes last year, aimed at improving the lives of renters. A couple of changes were made in August, but most of the big ones have just come into force on 11 February.  

I sat through an hour-long webinar and read parts of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, so you didn’t have to.  

Here’s what I learned:  

Goodbye to no cause evictions 

Landlords can no longer evict tenants without cause with 90 days’ notice. Instead, landlords will need to provide a reason, meeting specific grounds, in order to end a tenancy.  

However, you could still be given the boot if the landlord or a member of their family needs to move into the property, or if the landlord decides to sell the property. In which case, the landlord would need to provide 63 days’ notice or 90 days’ notice, respectively.  

Bedazzling  

You can now make small changes to the property. Landlords can no longer deny a request for minor alterations, but they are able to set some limitations around what changes can be made. They must respond to written requests within 21 days. Landlords can place some minor limitations around the changes but can’t be unreasonable.  

So, if you’re wanting to build a shrine to Harry Styles, you possibly could, as long as it’s small, doesn’t cause damage to the property and can be easily removed. Although, something tells me landlords wouldn’t be overly enthusiastic about that idea. Maybe try sending them a link to Harry’s latest single, ‘Treat People With Kindness’, and see how that goes.  

No more rental bidding 

All rental properties must be listed with a rental price. Landlords can no longer encourage prospective tenants to outbid each other. They must stick to the rental price advertised but are able to accept more if offered more by renters. Essentially, they can’t instigate rental bidding.  

Other changes 

All fixed-term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies unless, for example, the landlord and tenants agree otherwise.  

Landlords can no longer stop tenants from getting fibre broadband installed, as long as it’s of no cost to them.  

They must also provide renters with a tenancy agreement in writing. If they don’t, they are committing an unlawful act and may be liable for exemplary damages or an infringement fee.  

To come… 

The final phase of changes, set down for August 11, will see further protections for domestic violence victims. Any tenant experiencing family violence will be able to end a tenancy with two days’ notice if they have evidence of the abuse, without being further impacted financially.