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Law updates for landlords and tenants

New rules now apply for when tenants are liable for property damage, requirements for insurance statements, and more.

When: From 27 August 2019.
What: Updates to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act.

Changes include the following:

  • Tenant liability for damage: If tenants (or their guests) damage a rental property because of careless behaviour, the tenant will be liable for the cost of the damage. This can be up to a maximum of four weeks’ rent or the landlord’s insurance excess, whichever is lower.
  • Insurance statement: Landlords must provide a statement in any new tenancy agreement about whether the property is insured and if so, what the excess amount is for any relevant insurance policies. The statement must also note that a copy of the policy is available to the tenant on request.
  • Contamination of premises: Landlords can now test for methamphetamine in rental properties while tenants are living there. They must provide at least 48 hours’ notice (but not more than 14 days’ notice) to tenants before entering the property. For boarding house tenants, they must provide at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the boarding house room.  More details are coming about acceptable levels of methamphetamine contamination, as well as processes for testing and decontamination of rental properties.
  • Unlawful residential premises: This change strengthens the law for holding landlords to account if they rent out unsuitable premises. Landlords must meet all legal requirements relating to buildings, health, and safety that apply to the premises. They must also ensure that their property can legally be lived in at the start of the tenancy.

Tenancy Services has more information about the law changes, including a brochure that outlines the updates.

Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 now in force(external link) — Tenancy Services

Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 brochure [PDF, 527KB](external link) — Tenancy Services

Who: Rental property owners, landlords, managers and tenants.

Why: The Act was created to address the following issues:

  • liability for damage to rental properties caused by a tenant
  • methamphetamine contamination in rental properties
  • rental premises that are unlawful for residential use, such as garages and sleep-outs.

What you need to do:

You must provide a statement in any new tenancy agreement informing your tenants about whether the property is insured. You must also state that a copy of each insurance policy that relates to the tenant’s liability for property damage is available on request. This ensures tenants are aware of anything the policy doesn’t cover or anything they might do that would make that policy invalid.

Required statements for tenancy agreements(external link)— Tenancy Services

Make sure your tenants are living in properties that meet the minimum requirements for renting.

Maintenance and inspections(external link) — Tenancy Service

These updates are in addition to the healthy homes standards. These new minimum standards for rental properties will improve heating, insulation, ventilation and drainage, stop draughts and reduce moisture entering the premise from outside.

About the healthy homes standards(external link) — Tenancy Services

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