Changes to Residential Tenancy laws

27 February 2020

The NSW Office of Fair Trading has announced sweeping changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Act 2018 [NSW] and the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 [NSW].

Find out more below.

Some of the reforms include:

  • Rent increases must be limited to once per year during a periodic agreement when the fixed term has passed.
  • NSW landlords must ensure that their rental property meets 7 minimum standards to be ‘fit for habitation’
  • New and improved disclosure obligations on landlords and their agents, including disclosure of material facts, and strengthening the remedies for tenants when these obligations aren’t met
  • Landlords must obtain tenants’ prior written consent to publish photographs or video recordings of premises (including property interiors) for advertising purposes which may show tenants’ possessions.
  • Tenants may make minor alterations, fixtures, additions and renovations with the landlord’s consent, but the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent if the alteration, fixture or addition is one from a prescribed list in the 2019 Regulation.
  • Landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are in working order – penalties will apply for landlords who don’t comply.
  • Repairs and replacements of hardwired smoke alarms must be carried out by an authorised electrician.
  • Non-payment of water usage or utility charges may now result in tenancy termination (in addition to non-payment of rent).
  • Tenants have the right to break their lease if it is signed after 23 March 2020. Tenants will pay a break lease fee of:
    • 4 weeks rent if less than 25% of the fixed term has expired;
    • 3 weeks rent if 25% or more, but less than 50%, of the fixed term has expired;
    • 2 weeks rent if 50% or more, but less than 75%, of the fixed term has expired; and
    • 1 week’s rent if 75% or more of the fixed term has expired.
  • Victims of domestic violence will be able to terminate their tenancy without penalty
  • New powers for NSW Fair Trading to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords – this includes powers to investigate and issue rectification orders to require landlords to carry out repairs and maintenance, or tenants to fix damage.

You can read in more detail by clicking here.

These changes will come into effect on 23 March 2020.