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.
Minimum standards to clarify as ‘fit for habitation’
The new standards are:
- Structurally sound property
- Adequate natural or artificial lighting in each room, except storage rooms or garages
- Adequate ventilation
- Supplied with electricity or gas and has adequate electricity or gas outlets for lighting, heating and appliances
- Adequate plumbing and drainage
- Connected to a water supply service or infrastructure for the supply of hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning
- Contains bathroom facilities, including toilet and washing facilities, which allow user privacy.
From 23 March 2020, all NSW landlords will need to ensure that smoke alarms installed in the rented property are in working order. A penalty will apply for landlords who fail to comply.
To ensure smoke alarms installed in the rented property are in working order, a landlord must:
- carry out annual checks to ensure all smoke alarms installed at the property are in working order
- replace a removable battery in all smoke alarms in the period specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer (for a removable lithium battery), or otherwise annually
- repair or replace a smoke alarm that is not working within 2 days of becoming aware that it is not working
- replace a smoke alarm with a new smoke alarm within 10 years from the manufactured date, or earlier if specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer.
The details on when a landlord must repair or replace a battery-operated or hardwired smoke alarm, and when a tenant may repair or replace a smoke alarm, is in the new Regulation. The existing provision that allows landlords to enter the property without consent has been extended to specifically include inspecting or assessing the need for repairs to, or replacement of, a smoke alarm if proper notice has been given to the tenant.