Recent Residential Tenancy Amendments You Need to be Aware of

Recent Residential Tenancy Amendments You Need to be Aware of

Recent Residential Tenancy Amendments You Need to be Aware of

There have been some recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act as of 1/1/2020 that we need to advise you of. The two main ones that will affect the majority of owners are:

  • We can no longer charge the tenant for the special water meter reading fee (current charge from Water Corporation is $17.33) as the tenant is now only responsible for the payment of the consumption charge.  The reading fee will now be an owners expense.
  • A new requirement for the tenant to be provided with an account for any consumption charge within 30 days of receipt by the lessor of the utility account from the service provider.  We remind Owners that as soon as they receive any accounts relating to consumption please ensure invoices are sent on to us to allow for the charges to be passed onto the tenant.

Changes to Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (the RTA) - recent changes to tenancy legislation that may affect you include new provisions.

From 1 January 2020 who is responsible for utilities charges has been clarified. When the service is connected in the name of the lessor or a strata company the tenant is only responsible to pay the cost for their consumption if the service is separately metered or if not separately metered then only if the calculation of the charge has been previously agreed in writing between the lessor and the tenant.
If the service is not in the name of the tenant the tenant is not responsible for any charges other than consumption.  If you wish the tenant to pay for consumption you must provide the tenant a detailed written notice of the charge,  including the meter readings and the charge per metered unit within 30 days of receipt of the water, gas or electricity bill from the provider.  Where these charges are not coming direct from the provider to the agent you should ensure that the lessor is aware of the changes to ensure that invoices are received within the timeframe which allows for the charges to be passed onto the tenant. The charge to the tenant can include the GST component of the consumption amount. Where a tenancy ends within 30 days after an invoice for a public utility service is received or the invoice is received after the tenancy has ended notice may be provided to the tenant as soon as practicable after the notice is received and the tenant is located.

Affixing furniture
While Consumer Protection has actively encouraged lessors to permit tenants to affix furniture to prevent it toppling onto children, from 2 December 2019 changes to tenancy laws allow tenants to apply to an agent for permission to affix furniture in order to ensure the safety of a child or person with a disability. The tenant must use the approved form. 

You have 14 days to respond to the request and can only refuse if:

  • Affixing the item to the wall would disturb material containing asbestos; or
  • the premises are entered in the Register of Heritage Places; or
  • the premises is situated in a strata scheme with by-laws prohibiting the affixing of the item to the wall of the premises.

If you do not respond within the 14 days you are taken to have consented to the request. The tenant must notify the landlord in writing   of any damage caused by anchoring and removing furniture, and be responsible to repair it.   The tenant must remove the items from the wall at the end of the tenancy and restore the wall to its original condition unless otherwise agreed in writing.

Damage to premises
Standard tenancy agreements require tenants to not intentionally or negligently cause damage or permit damage to be caused to the residential premises.  From 1 January 2020 tenants will be responsible for damage to common areas and chattels in common areas of strata properties.  A court may terminate a residential tenancy agreement where the tenant has intentionally or recklessly caused or permitted serious damage to a common area or chattels in the common area of the premises.

If you have any queries or concerns please contact your property manager.

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