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Landlords and tenants: Your new obligations

Landlords and tenants: Your new obligations

With new regulations around minimum standards for rentals established this year, as well as amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), it’s important landlords and tenants know what their obligations are.

The national median weekly rent is $500 per week according to Trade Me’s latest rental data, which new recruits coming from the Philippines may find staggering. Thankfully many of our employees have on site accommodation, so this cost is kept much lower.

When recruits sign their contract, they are aware of the accommodation cost, yet once they are working here, paying tax and possibly living in a far bigger house than they would expect to live in, they may question the cost of their accommodation.

To understand the median weekly rental cost of renting a house across New Zealand, take a look at Trade Me’s latest rental statistics. Migrant workers recruited through CC Recruitment will likely find they are paying far less than market value for their rental!

Take note of new tenancy regulations

The new Healthy Homes standards were established in February this year to ensure all rental properties comply with minimum standards for heating, ventilation, insulation and moisture ingress. This means all rental properties will require a fixed heating device, insulation, and ventilation in bathrooms and kitchens.

Landlords have until 2024 to get their properties up to scratch, except for insulation, which should have been up to the current building code by July this year. Landlords will also need to supply a certificate to their tenants stating the level of insulation. 

There were further changes to regulations in July this year, when the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act was passed. The new regulations were effective from August 27 and it’s important all landlords take note of what the changes mean.

Here are some of the key changes: 

  • Tenants’ liability for careless (unintentional) damage in rental properties is limited. They are now liable for the cost of the damage up to four weeks’ rent or the landlord’s insurance excess (if applicable), whichever is lower.  
  • The Tenancy Tribunal now has full jurisdiction over cases concerning premises that are unlawful for residential purposes, such as garages and sleep-outs, which don’t meet minimum requirements for renting.
  • The Residential Tenancies Act now protects tenants living in those premises.
  • Tenancy Services now has the ability to take enforcement action against landlords who rent properties which don’t meet minimum standards.
  • Regulations will be made to address how contamination of rental properties is tested and managed.

Read more about the RTA changes here or if you want to learn more about whether your rental will comply with the Healthy Homes standards changes, you can do so here.

In addition to these changes, we’ve outlined some aspects of Tenancy Law that may be helpful for both tenants and landlords to know. 

Obligations for landlords

Landlords should take excellent care of their rental property and their tenants. Here are some of the key obligations of landlords taken from the tenancy.govt.nz website:

  • Landlords are encouraged to undertake regular inspections and some insurance policies require at least three-monthly inspections. However, landlords must give tenants at least 48 hours’ notice before an inspection, or to test for meth contamination.
  • Tenants have the right to the “quiet enjoyment” of the house they rent. This means the landlord can’t harass the tenant or interfere with their reasonable peace, comfort and privacy.
  • The landlord is usually responsible for outside cleaning and maintenance tasks. For example, house-washing or gutter cleaning.
  • Cleaning the chimney is usually the landlord’s responsibility.
  • When landlords install digital TV they must also repair and maintain the equipment.
  • Landlords must give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property to do any necessary repairs or maintenance. These repairs should be done between 8am and 7pm. 
  • Landlords can also access the house to do work to comply with the Healthy Homes standards.
  • Landlords don’t need to give notice to come onto the property (the land) when the landlord has agreed to do things (like mow the lawns) for the tenants.

Obligations for Tenants

Who’s responsible for damage to a rental depends on how it was caused. The tenant is not responsible for repairs or damage arising from burglaries, natural events (such as storms, floods and earthquakes), or fair wear and tear. But they are responsible for:

  • Telling the landlord if they know of any damage or need for repairs. If the tenant does not notify the landlord as soon as possible the landlord may be able to claim some of the costs of repairing the damage from the tenant if it gets worse.
  • Telling the landlord if they (or their invited guests) intentionally damages the landlord’s property. The landlord can ask the tenant to repair the damage, or to pay the cost of replacement or repair.
  • Keeping the property in a tidy and clean condition. This includes keeping the interior clean (carpets, windows, bathrooms and kitchen surfaces clean and tidy) and the exterior tidy and free from rubbish (tenancy agreements will stipulate whether the tenant mows and gardens or the service is provided). 
  • Tenants cannot alter or add fixtures without the landlord’s permission. This includes security lights/alarms, spa pools, garden sheds, panel heaters etc.
  • Tenants also need to respect the peace, comfort and privacy of their neighbours or other tenants.

If you have any concerns around tenancies, please don’t hesitate to discuss with CC Recruitment, or if you need tenancy advice, visit the Tenancy Services website.

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