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Tenancy Act shake-up set to keep tenants warmer and safer

15 July 2016

Warmer, safer houses make for both compliant landlords and happier tenants – positive thinking which is set to come to fruition following changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 earlier this month.

In what is the biggest shake-up to the Act in 30 years, it sees a reform in regards to matters of abandonment, requirement of insulation and smoke alarms in residential rental properties, and provides greater enforcement powers in relation to unsafe or unhealthy properties. 

And while there has been a wealth of commentary on the amendments, as they affect a significant proportion of the population, there are two main points.

The first is smoke alarms (long-life photoelectric alarms), which are to be compulsory in all rentals. Once in place tenants will be responsible for replacing batteries and notifying landlords of defects.

Secondly, all tenancies, including boarding houses, must have ceiling and under-floor insulation with a minimum thickness of 70mm by July 1, 2019. Exemptions apply to properties where it is physically impractical to retrofit insulation.

These are changes the Government believes will make 180,000 homes warmer, drier and 120,000 safer – without imposing excessive bureaucracy or cost.

Penalties of up to $4000 will be imposed on a tenant or landlord for breaches of the amendment, particularly landlords, as it affects their ongoing responsibilities for their rental investments.

We recommend landlords seek specialist and legal advice on the tenancy laws and regulations to protect their position and investment. 

- Sarah Lawson (Licensed Conveyancer)
(Published in The Weekend Sun, July 15, 2016)