Submission cover sheet
- Name of organisation or individual making this submission
Questions on possible options
- 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?
As most landlords are required to complete tax returns etc based on financial year, the changes should come into effect at the start of the next financial year and not mid way through the year.
- Is a mid-2020 date appropriate for commencement of the new minimum standards for rental properties? If not, why?
Ye - in line with normal reporting/tax requirement of the landlord
- Are there other terms in the proposed Regulation that should be defined so that their meaning is clear?
- Does the new standard form of tenancy agreement clearly define the rights and obligations of both landlords and tenants?
No - there is still a lot of areas open to interpretation - for example, allowing tenants minor alterations without seeking consent - "minor" is very subjective and tenants are likely to push the limits with their interpretation. Letting tenants put picture hooks/screws for pictures wherever they like is likely to cause excess damage to the landlords premises - if the wrong type of hook or screw is used, and needs to be removed, it is likely a large section of wall could come out with the hook - this would then require patching plaster and painting the affected walls. Additionally if there are a large number of hooks and screws in all walls, this could impact on future rent ability - some people like minimalist living conditions, if prospective tenant looks at a house now full of hooks and screws, they are less likely to rent the property, and /or the rent they would be prepared to pay will be lower - either way allowing tenants cart blanch is likely to have a negative financial impact for the Landlord. Child gates and locks are an important safety feature, but if being installed with one side of the fitting on a door and the other the door frame requires holes to be made in doors and frames, that will leave permanent damage when safety locks are removed - same with kitchen cupboards - the type of safety catch being used should be required not to damage the premises, and be removable without leaving any holes etc. Smoke detectors requiring to be fixed within 72 hours - this is very restrictive - it does not allow for notification on a weekend or public holiday when it is harder for tradesmen to be booked - the detectors are a safety feature and should be repaired as a matter of urgency, but the time frame for repair should be 3 business days, not 72 hours - this allows adequate time to source and engage qualified tradesman to complete repair - if 72 hours is regulatory time, imagine getting notified of defective smoke detector late on a Friday afternoon, the first opportunity to contact tradesmen is likely to be the Monday, but most tradies have work booked days/ weeks in advance - is it likely we would be able to contact, engage and have the job completed all within the one day - this is what would be needed with a 72 hour restriction - same scenario on a long weekend - if notified late Friday afternoon and public holiday Monday - it would be nearly impossible to comply with the required 72 hour limit. What about the Christmas and Easter public holiday periods, with extended Holiday periods - it is unrealistic for landlords to complete repairs in 72 hours in these instances. Removal of the tenant having to use a specified qualified tradesman for repairs ie removing the trusted emergency repair contact details and the tenant is fit to use their own - this leaves it open for tenants to cut corners to save costs, and do a very shoddy job - again reducing the value of landlords premises and the rent ability. Removal and reduction to current break lease fees that will be replaced with a percentage fee making a fixed term lease agreement rendered useless. Maximum break fee within the first 3 months is 4 weeks rent. A tenant who is in the last three months of a 12-month fixed term tenancy can effectively give zero days notice of their intention to vacate the property and only be liable for the equivalent of one weeks rent as compensation to the landlord - this change is likely to lead to financial stress for the Landlords - most of us have substantial mortgages on the tenanted property - if tenants are late in their lease period, they could effectively give no notice to leave - given the need to have the premised presentable and clean, and lead time for advertising a premises for rent , then the time period before new tenant can actually move in, it is likely to be many weeks of no rent coming in, but the landlord still has to find the money to pay the mortgage - even with current notice required of a few weeks, there can still be a period of no income for landlords of 1-2 weeks - changing the requirement to be little or no notice will likely extend that period. If you make it too hard for landlords to meat their financial obligations, it is likely they will sell up rental properties to remove the stress and obligations imposed on them - this will lead to less rental properties on offer, which will subsequently lead to higher demand for the remaining rental properties, and that will push rents up - Therefore tenants will be financially disadvantaged in the long run. Tenants regularly have little regard for the property they are renting as they dont own it - we had our place badly damaged by a tenant - they carved knife cuts into the edges of the kitchen benches, cur most vertical blind drops, gouged holes in vinyl flooring and carpets, damaged fly screen doors - cutting through the screens - we had to replace flooring and kitchen benches, screens and blinds, and existing were deemed to be of no value as they were too old - all would have been use able for years to come, and there was no compensation for the added expense we incurred - if you allow tenants to make changes/ alterations this could only increase the likely damage to a property and financial burden on landlords.
- Are there other ways that the standard form of tenancy agreement can be improved? If so, how?
Tenants should still be required to provide adequate notice of their intention to leave - they should also be required to be responsible to financially compensate the landlord if their actions cause financial burden to the landlord. - make each party responsible to treat the other fairly - landlord should maintain the premises in reasonable state of repair, but tenants should also be obliged to maintain that state of repair. These responsibilities should be included in the agreement.
- Are there any other terms that should be prohibited from being included in a residential tenancy agreement?
There should be a minimum notice period that tenants can provide when vacating - no less than a week should be provided, but ideally 2 weeks - any less is unreasonable an untenable for the landlords. There should be scope to add special circumstances in lease agreement, i.e. maximum period for rent available, for example if a property is to be sold in 6 months it is better to be up front with details for both prospective tenants and landlords. If the agreement cant have amendments it is very restrictive and could create long term issues for the tenants or the land lords.
- Do you agree that these terms should not be excluded or modified by a fixed term agreement of 20 years or more?
A fixed term agreement of 20 years is far too long a period
- Are there other terms in the Act that should not be excluded or modified in fixed term agreements of 20 years or more?
- Do you think that the proposed condition report is easy to use?
The condition report should be easy to use, and at the same time be very comprehensive - the more detail provided in the condition report, the better for both the tenant and the landlord. When moving into a rental premised, the tenant should complete a very thorough inspection/ condition report - this will protect them so that there is a base line of comparison for when they are moving out and it is easier to establish normal wear and tear with unacceptable damage to the property - a good report provides a better benchmark for both parties, thus protecting both landlord and tenant at the same time.
- Should any other features be included in the condition report to help accurately describe the condition of the premises?
Possible details of work recently completed on property - i.e if house has just been internally painted before tenant moved in this provides a better bench mark for the condition of property as opposed to a property that is 20 years old and never had any rectification work done to it.
- 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?
Without regular inspections of property it is unlikely the landlord will be aware of this activity in their premises - additionally as landlords must provide notification of their intention to inspect to premises - any illegal activity in the premises id likely to be hidden - it would therefore be very difficult for the Landlord to be aware of any such activity - unless neighbours report these activities to authorities, I dont see how a landlord is likely to be able to find out about any such activities.
- Are the prescribed timeframes for disclosing each of the material facts listed under clause 8, still appropriate? If not, why?
If a landlord becomes aware of material facts, then they should definitely be required to report on them to incoming tenants.
- Are the proposed material facts listed under clause 8 too broad or too narrow? If yes, why?
- Are there other types of material facts that a landlord or landlord’s agent should disclose to a prospective tenant?
Anything that will have an impact on the tenants standard of living.
- Are clauses 9, 10 and 11 still appropriate? If so, why?
- Are there any other charges that should apply to social housing tenants?
- Are there other water efficiency measures that should be prescribed? If so, why?
No - as long as recognised water saving fixtures are installed that should be all that is required.
- Is the newly drafted clause 13 appropriate? If not, why?
- Do the requirements appropriately balance tenant safety with administrative costs to landlords and agents? If not, why?
Unless more clearly specified, i.e using fittings that will cause minimal damage, then no - all the proposed changes are likely to cause increased costs to the landlord, whether it be the condition of the property being detrimentally affected and there for rectification costs being needed, or the diminished condition of the property resulting in a lower rent being obtained, there will be increased costs for the landlord.
- Are there other circumstances where repairs to a smoke alarm should be carried out by a qualified professional? If so, why?
Any hard wired smoke alarms should be repaired by qualified tradesmen if it is only a battery that needs replacing then that would not require qualified tradesman
- Are any of the smoke alarm repair requirements unclear? If so, why?
- How much notice should a tenant give a landlord to carry out repairs to a smoke alarm, given the need to repair it urgently?
- Do you agree that the prescribed list of minor alterations is reasonable? If not, why?
No - there are too many areas where the premises is likely to be damaged as a result - this will lead to reduced capital value of the premises, or reduces rental value, or additional expenses for landlord due to required rectification works.
- 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?
Consent should be required and in 9 out of 10 cases, a licenced tradesman should be required to complete alterations as this will minimise the likelihood of poor work being done. A bad job impacts both tenant and landlord, as it would reduce the living standard for tenant and the value of property for landlord.
- Are there other types of minor alterations that should be prescribed, including measures to further improve accessibility for elderly or disabled tenants?
- Do you agree with the list of exceptions? If not, why?
- Are there any other situations where clause 17 should not apply?
- Do you have any suggestions on how the wording and layout of the declaration form could be improved?
Keep the terms user friendly and clear Make sure there are no ambiguities point form is easier wherever possible and appropriate. Have headings which make it easier to locate the area needed.
- Should the exemptions provided for in clauses 19-26 continue to apply? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clause 27 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clauses 28 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clause 29 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the new exemption provided by clause 30 appropriate? If not, why?
- Is the exemption provided by clause 31 appropriate? If not, why?
- Are the timeframes for making applications to the Tribunal adequate? If not, why?
- Is the jurisdictional limit set for rental bond and other matters adequate? If not, why?
- 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?
- Should an interest rate on rental bonds still be prescribed? Why?
- Are the prescribed savings and transitional provisions appropriate?
- Are any other savings or transitional provisions required?
- Are the changes to penalty amounts in the proposed Regulation appropriate?