Amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (the Act) and the new Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 (the new Regulation) will come into effect from March 23rd 2020. The changes aim to reduce disputes over repairs and maintenance, increase protection and certainty for tenants, and clarify the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords.
Below are just some of the changes.
Break lease fees
Mandatory set fees when a tenant breaks a fixed-term agreement early will apply to all new fixed-term agreements that are 3 years or less. This applies to agreements that are entered into from 23 March 2020 onwards.
The break fees are:
- 4 weeks rent if less than 25% of the lease had expired
- 3 weeks rent if 25% or more but less than 50% of the lease had expired
- 2 weeks rent if 50% or more but less than 75% of the lease had expired
- 1 week’s rent if 75% or more of the lease had expired.
Using the example of a 12-month tenancy agreement, a tenant would only be required to provide two weeks’ rent to their landlord (that is, an amount equal to two week’s rent) to end their agreement early, if seven months (or 58%) of the agreement had expired.
Rent increases for periodic (continuing) leases will be limited to once every 12 months
In relation to a domestic violence case, tenants/co-tenants will be able to break their lease with no compensation to the landlord, provided there is reasonable proof provided by the tenant. A tenant can end their fixed-term or periodic tenancy immediately, without penalty, if the tenant or their dependent child is in circumstances of domestic violence. A tenant or their dependent child is in circumstances of domestic violence if they:
- were the victim of a domestic violence offence during the tenancy
- are protected by an in-force provisional, interim or final Domestic Violence Order (DVO)
- are protected against family violence by an in-force family law injunction
- have been declared by a medical practitioner to be a victim of domestic violence perpetrated by the relevant domestic violence offender during the current tenancy.