Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019

Submission cover sheet

  • Name of organisation or individual making this submission

    First National David Haggarty - Alexandra haggarty

  • Authorised delegate/contact person

    Alexandra Haggarty

  • Position

    Managing Director

  • Organisation

    First National David Haggarty

Questions on possible options

  1. Is a 2 December 2019 commencement date for the proposed Regulation and Amendment Act reasonable for industry participants to adjust to the changes? If not, why?

    Yes if the FINAL details of the changes are released soon. Industry needs time to educate agents of the changes, develop new office procedures and checklists then educate their Landlords & have returned any changes in documentation before the change.

  2. Is a mid-2020 date appropriate for commencement of the new minimum standards for rental properties? If not, why?

    No, I feel that in rural areas getting tradespeople to create inspections for the minimum standards could take some time as the changes do not affect tradespeople so they may be reluctant to develop an inspection that caters to this. In cities it would be easier to just use a different trades person and get someone to do a compliance inspection but in small towns that is harder to do. Fair trading needs to remember that agent are not qualified to make the decision on questionable calls as to if a property is compliant or not and we will then have to engage trades to make the call and in rural areas this takes longer to achieve. It is also an unreasonable time frame for agents to get their owners to make any amendments to property to make them compliant and get the relevant documentation back to the office to allow them to sign new leases when we still do not have FINAL details as to what the minimum standards are and it is unreasonable to ask owners to make alterations to their properties before the standards are final.

  3. Are there other terms in the proposed Regulation that should be defined so that their meaning is clear?

    Terms like "adequate ventilation" and "structurally sound" are reasonably vague and could not possibly be determined by an agent in some cases. What is an adequate number of electricity sockets or gas outlet sockets? What is adequate to one person will inevitably be very different to someone else. Most new homes are fitted with one power point per room.... is that adequate? If I work from home and have a home office I may not think so but clearly the building company did think it was adequate. Is one gas outlet enough in a large property when it also has reverse cycle AC? What if the tenant doesnt want to run the AC in winter for cost saving, they want a second gas outlet to save on running costs? Is is reasonable to make an owner pay for that (quite a hefty expense) when there is another heating source but the tenant does not want to use it. What is adequate natural light? Does that mean at least one window or does it mean more that that? Would a tenant be able to come back at an owner and say they require more that one window...? At what point is ANY dampness or supporting structures being in ANY state of repair are they no longer reasonable? This whole section is very vague which I understand can be taken to the tribunal to be defined by a third party but this is at a cost to the owner. What happens if the tribunal member ruled that the owner had not done anything wrong and they do not need to do any work that a tenant was asking for unreasonable changes? They are still out of pocket on lodgment fees and agent attendance fees for something that they had not done wrong.

  4. Does the new standard form of tenancy agreement clearly define the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants?

  5. Are there other ways that the standard form of tenancy agreement can be improved? If so, how?

    Why is there no option for a 3 month lease? Some owners that have the property for sale need a shorter lease than 6 months to allow for vacant possession and some tenants require a shorter lease than 6 months for their own reasons. For example we recently had a tenancy for 3 months because the tenant was only leasing the property while the house she owned was being repaired by the insurance company after a natural disaster. Another example where tenants are regularly asking for short term leases is when they are between two properties they own or are renovating. Why is the government dictating the minimum length of a lease when both parties have good reasons for shorter term leases?

  6. Are there any other terms that should be prohibited from being included in a residential tenancy agreement?

  7. Do you agree that these terms should not be excluded or modified by a fixed term agreement of 20 years or more?

    Our office does not offer fixed term agreements of 20 years or more and does not recommend them to our owners as the owner is placed as too great a disadvantage on such lease. The advantage of a long term tenant does not outweigh the loss of landlord rights

  8. Are there other terms in the Act that should not be excluded or modified in fixed term agreements of 20 years or more?

    Answer as above

  9. Do you think that the proposed condition report is easy to use?

    Yes, as it allow for digital condition reports, something that has been lacking in the industry for too long.

  10. Should any other features be included in the condition report to help accurately describe the condition of the premises?

  11. For the material fact listed under clause 8(f), are there other instances where a landlord could become aware that the property has been used to manufacture drugs?

    no

  12. Are the prescribed timeframes for disclosing each of the material facts listed under clause 8, still appropriate? If not, why?

    2 Years seems like a long time for the property being used to manufacture prohibited drug or especially prohibited plants. Is the property really contaminated for that long after it has been forensically cleaned? If the property is no longer contaminated, should the owner still have to be disadvantaged by the previous use?

  13. Are the proposed material facts listed under clause 8 too broad or too narrow? If yes, why?

  14. Are there other types of material facts that a landlord or landlord’s agent should disclose to a prospective tenant?

  15. Are clauses 9, 10 and 11 still appropriate? If so, why?

  16. Are there any other charges that should apply to social housing tenants?

  17. Are there other water efficiency measures that should be prescribed? If so, why?

  18. Is the newly drafted clause 13 appropriate? If not, why?

  19. Do the requirements appropriately balance tenant safety with administrative costs to landlords and agents? If not, why?

    Not sure which costs/tenant safety you are referring to.

  20. Are there other circumstances where repairs to a smoke alarm should be carried out by a qualified professional? If so, why?

  21. Are any of the smoke alarm repair requirements unclear? If so, why?

  22. How much notice should a tenant give a landlord to carry out repairs to a smoke alarm, given the need to repair it urgently?

    Most landlords today use smoke alarm companies to manage and maintain the alarms so it needs to be long enough to allow the agent/landlord to contact the smoke alarm company then they company to attend.

  23. Do you agree that the prescribed list of minor alterations is reasonable? If not, why?

    The child safety gates is excessive when you can purchase devices that do not require the property to be altered.

  24. Do you agree with the list of alterations where consent may be conditional on having the work carried out by a qualified tradesperson? If not, why?

    Yes, dependent on the type of alteration. Take instillation of lever taps, if they are not installed correctly they could malfunction and damage other parts of the property. There is a danger that instillation of phone/Internet lines may not be done property requiring an owner to pay someone to rectify should the tenancy change. The same goes for any child safety devices. If they are not installed correctly and remained at the property after a tenancy changed and the new tenant were to use them presuming that the device was installed correctly and someone was hurt; where would that leave the owner and the new tenant. If the tenant has the right to make an amendment to a property, they should be required to make sure it is installed properly to prevent anyone getting hurt in the future or the owner being left with a repair bill. The owner should be able to make consent conditional to the alteration being reverted to the original state at the end of the tenancy as well. A property may be harder to lease at the end of a tenancy if there is mobility aids throughout the house as it is less aesthetically appealing to a more mobile tenant. Additionally, there are considerations as to the quality of an amendment for example, an owner may have paid for a quality curtain to be installed and the tenant replaces it with a cheap one. The owner should be able to require the original curtain be installed in this example. The other thing to consider with these changes is that there is a large part of the rental market that are landlords renting their house out temporarily and it is their family home that they are returning to. Shouldnt they have the right to come back to the same home they left?

  25. Are there other types of minor alterations that should be prescribed, including measures to further improve accessibility for elderly or disabled tenants?

    There already is the ability for a tenant to request further changes and an owner to approve them if it is feasible at that property. If you make the alterations approved too vast you will run into problems where a tenant wants to have a change made that is not practical. Ramping etc is not an option for all properties but if you make them an alteration that has to be approved by an owner and it is not reasonable you are opening the owner up to being subjected to unreasonable changes to their property.

  26. Do you agree with the list of exceptions? If not, why?

    Yes

  27. Are there any other situations where clause 17 should not apply?

    When the property is listed for sale. An owner should have the ability to take marketing photos of a property and be able to use them for the duration of the sale campaign without the tenant changing key aspects of the property such as window coverings etc.

  28. Do you have any suggestions on how the wording and layout of the declaration form could be improved?

  29. Should the exemptions provided for in clauses 19-26 continue to apply? If not, why?

  30. Is the new exemption provided by clause 27 appropriate? If not, why?

    Not sure why the government should be able to provide a house at less of a standard for people to live in than a private landlord. If the standards are what we as a community expect a property to be at to be lived in, then all property should be at that standard for the tenant whether the landlord is a person or the government.

  31. Is the new exemption provided by clauses 28 appropriate? If not, why?

  32. Is the new exemption provided by clause 29 appropriate? If not, why?

  33. Is the new exemption provided by clause 30 appropriate? If not, why?

  34. Is the exemption provided by clause 31 appropriate? If not, why?

  35. Are the timeframes for making applications to the Tribunal adequate? If not, why?

  36. Is the jurisdictional limit set for rental bond and other matters adequate? If not, why?

  37. Are there any unintended consequences in prescribing a cumulative amount where an order is made with respect to both a rental bond and another matter?

  38. Should an interest rate on rental bonds still be prescribed? Why?

  39. Are the prescribed savings and transitional provisions appropriate?

  40. Are any other savings or transitional provisions required?

  41. Are the changes to penalty amounts in the proposed Regulation appropriate?

At our discretion we may remove parts of submissions because of length, content, appropriateness or confidentiality (privacy) reasons.

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