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Greater protection under new RTA bill

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) amendment bill recently introduced into Parliament will give greater protection to vulnerable tenants and help both landlords and tenants enforce their respective rights.

Friday, May 30th 2008, 11:08AM

by The Landlord

“These changes mean it’s essential we achieve an appropriate balance between landlords’ and tenants’ rights and obligations, because the bigger the rental market gets, the bigger its social and economic impact,” Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones said.

Another key proposal will introduce sanctions for landlords who fail to meet their maintenance responsibilities. Landlords will also be able to seek damages for some tenant breaches.

The existing RTA, which came into force in 1986, does not provide adequate protection to those living in boarding houses and some rented retirement accommodation. Under the proposed amendments boarding houses with six or more tenants will become subject to the act, as will some rented retirement accommodation.

Martin Evans, president of the New Zealand Property Investors’ Federation believes the changes to the bill are positive and is encouraging members to make their views on the proposed changes known.

“Currently the RTA is skewed and has an anti-landlord bias so we welcome the long awaited bill,” he says.

“This is a golden opportunity for all landlords to make their views known. NZPIF will be helping to distribute the draft legislation to all its members and encourages all residential property investor landlords to study the draft legislation and tell the government about areas they believe need more work to get it right.”

One aspect of the draft legislation the NZPIF will be vigorously opposing is limiting tenant damages to four weeks' rent.

In summary, the bill:

  • Extends the RTA’s coverage to boarding houses and to some rented accommodation where services such as meals or cleaning are provided
  • Increases the monetary jurisdiction of the Tenancy Tribunal and penalties for breaches of the act
  • Increases the enforceability of Tenancy Tribunal orders by, for example, enabling a party to recover private debt collection costs
  • Limits tenant liability for damage to their rental premises to four weeks’ rent if the Tenancy Tribunal is satisfied that the tenant neither caused the damage intentionally or recklessly, not intentionally or recklessly encouraged or permitted another person to damage the premises
  • Retains incentives for tenants to look after the premises
  • Clarifies responsibility for outgoings such as rates, insurance and water use
  • Allows for tenant breaches, such as sub-letting without consent, over-populating the premises or becoming a problem neighbour, to be subject to exemplary damages, as an alternative to eviction
  • Clarifies the status of body corporate rules, with remedies for tenants if body corporate rules change during a tenancy
  • Prohibits tenants being charged a ‘letting fee’.

« RTA amendments finally passedBill introduced to modernise unit titles law »

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HSBC Special - - - -
ICBC 5.15 3.18 3.18 3.20
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Kiwibank 5.20 4.20 4.30 4.64
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Kiwibank - Offset 5.15 - - -
Kiwibank Special - 3.45 3.55 3.89
Liberty 5.69 - - -
Napier Building Society - - - -
Nelson Building Society 5.70 4.25 4.15 -
Pepper Money Near Prime 5.64 - 5.44 5.44
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
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Pepper Money Specialist 7.59 - 7.39 7.39
Resimac 4.50 4.86 3.89 3.94
RESIMAC Special - - - -
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SBS Bank Special - 3.39 3.45 3.89
Sovereign 5.30 3.89 4.05 4.39
Sovereign Special - 3.39 3.55 3.89
The Co-operative Bank - Owner Occ 5.15 3.49 3.59 3.89
The Co-operative Bank - Standard 5.15 3.99 4.09 4.39
TSB Bank 6.09 4.19 4.35 4.69
Lender Flt 1yr 2yr 3yr
TSB Special 5.29 3.39 3.55 3.89
Wairarapa Building Society 5.70 4.85 4.99 -
Westpac 5.34 4.15 4.09 4.49
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Median 5.34 3.99 4.07 4.39

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