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Why should landlords pay attention to recent tenancy law changes?

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The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (RTAA) is arguably the biggest tenancy reform in 30 years. It comes with lots of nuisances that landlords should be aware of.

Most landlords probably never even used an option to terminate a tenancy using a no-fault 90-day notice, but certainly felt reassured knowing that the option was there if they needed to use it.

From 11th February landlords will no longer be able to remove a tenant without giving a reason. This change alone puts enormous pressure on the tenant selection process, ensuring that the tenant you choose is the right person for you and your property.

No easy outs with bad tenant selection

Landlords are now expected to allow tenants to settle for longer and make minor alterations to the property to help them feel at home. So you can't be too casual about who you rent the property to. Know your tenants, know who you are signing agreements with and who lives in your property. Have a robust vetting process in place. If you don't do it already, make sure you run tenant or credit checks on the shortlisted candidates. Tenant checks are a great way to ensure that your applicants are who they say they are.

Some renters' names will be removed from Tenancy Tribunal records

Tenants can now ask to remove their names from Tribunal records if they have been partially or wholly successful in their claim, or if this is in the interests of the parties and the public interest.

This shouldn't discourage landlords checking Tribunal records when making decision about renting to the applicant. However, it's important to remember that some records may not be accessible now.

Maintain good records

This change seems to slide under the radar. But landlords' record-keeping obligations have changed.

Not having a written tenancy agreement is now an unlawful act. A landlord may be liable for exemplary damages or an infringement fee.

The landlords are also now required to keep much more thorough tenancy records and make them available to tenants and/or the Regulator (MBIE) upon request.

A landlord must keep any advertisement records for the tenancy, tenant's original application to rent the property, and communication with the tenant around tenancy negotiation.

A landlord should also keep copies of tenancy agreements, renewals, variations, insurance, inspections, images, correspondence and financial records. The full list of documents is listed in the RTA at Section 123A(1).

These documents need to be kept for the whole duration of the tenancy and a year afterwards. A landlord also should keep financial records relating to rent and bond payments for 7 tax years.

myRent management software not only helps you create all tenancy documents but keeps all the records in one central place making organising tenancy paperwork effortless. All the rental information is easily accessible. All the documents and communications with tenants are backed up so that nothing ever gets lost. Even if you decide to no longer use myRent, we will still store your records for you just in case.

  • Find old records. Go through emails and messages and talk to your old agent.
  • Make sure you have them all and keep them appropriately filed.
  • Please pay attention to notices making sure they were served right, and the dates were correct. Have a record how these notices were served and when.
  • Make sure your records are kept and well maintained going forward.

Know the law

In recent years the landlords have faced many resets of rental laws and the list of changes to the Residential Tenancies Act is long - the letting fees ban, insulation compliance requirements, the Healthy Homes Standards, the requirement to provide an insurance disclosure statement and now the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020. It's a lot.

But ignorance of law is no excuse. We recommend for you to join your local property investment association. They are excellent at helping you stay up-to-speed with an overwhelming amount of new information. They also provide you with helpful resources and best practice suggestions. This knowledge will give you the confidence to invest well.

If you're using myRent software to manage your properties, we help you follow the rules by guiding you through tenancy law, providing the latest templates to use for agreements and notices. And should anything go wrong with the tenancy, you can rely on the independent verifiable 3rd party records.

The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. myRent.co.nz does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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