Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019

Submission cover sheet

  • Name of organisation or individual making this submission

    MIR BROS GROUP OF COMPANIES

  • Authorised delegate/contact person

    LEO A MIR

  • Position

    DIRECTOR

  • Organisation

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?

    No. The amendments and changes hare not settled yet.

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

    it is better that 02/12/19

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

    Yes . See below. The newly introduced definition for the term "separately metered" includes a term "by the supplier" which has the potential to impact the ability to assess and charge for an individual tenants utility use which can have a significantly adverse environmental and economic impact through the sector. WATER USAGE SUBMISSION After reviewing the Public Consultation Draft of the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 (PCD-RTR), and its impact on the recent amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act, 2010 (RTA), as outlined in the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Bill 2018 (RTARB), we believe that an unintended outcome of these proposed amendments will have an environmentally detrimental consequence, in relation to excessive utility use, as a result of measures inhibiting the recovery of utility usage charges from tenants in multi dwelling buildings which are serviced be a single utility provider’s meter. The reason for the concern arises from the introduction of a definition for the term “ separately metered”, in the RTARB, a term which previously was undefined. Section (d) of the definition of “separately metered “ states as follows: “That enables a separate bill to be issued by the supplier for all charges for the supply and use of the electricity, gas, oil or water at those residential premises” The specific problem occurs with the use of the words “ by the supplier “. Although theoretically the application of this definition will affect recovery of usage charges for all utilities mentioned, we will confine our discussion to the recovery of water usage charges, as that is what the impact of the introduction of the definition will have on our organisation. The use of those words has meant that once the amended Act and Regulations are operational, owners of buildings where only one Sydney Water meter for the whole multi-unit building exists, will no longer be able to charge occupants of these type of residential premises for their individual water usage. This is because Sydney Water is the supplier, and Sydney Water in these instances has no ability to assess the water usage of each individual tenant. Currently, in situations where only one Sydney Water meter exists for the entire multi–unit building and where separate individual approved and compliant water meters have been installed to each individual residential unit (by the building owner for the specific and sole purpose of being able to measure each unit’s separate water usage), the building owners are able to read each individual unit’s water meter and accordingly, assess each individual unit’s water usage over a specified time. In this way, by subtracting the current meter reading from the tenant’s last meter reading (or the meter reading at the commencement of the tenancy at that unit as the case may be) each individual residential unit’s water usage can be measured and a charge calculated based on the applicable rate on the relevant Sydney Water account for that period. The basis for this method of calculation and ability to seek recovery of the water usage charge from the applicable tenant is in accordance with the relevant wording of s.39((2) of the RTA namely, “ ….or other evidence of the cost of water used by the tenant “ The effect of this process is that each tenant is more conscious of their individual water usage and is more focused on ensuring that water is not wasted or used frivolously, because there will be a direct financial consequence to them in not doing so. Under the current RTA, the building owner is able to undertake this meter reading process to work out the quantity of water used, and by supplying the tenant with a copy of Sydney Water’s account showing the cost of the water used, can make an accurate calculation of the cost of each unit’s water usage for the period in question, as per the provisions of s.39(2) of the RTA and RTARB. However, as it is not entirely clear whether in this instance the building owner could be considered the “supplier” of the water, and the word “supplier” is not defined in any of the legislation or their regulations, there is the potential that being able to regulate and charge for individual tenant’s water usage in multi-unit buildings where only one Sydney Water meter is fitted, may no longer be possible, once the amended legislation and regulations become operational. Sydney Water will only read its own meter on any property and will only issue a bill to the building owner. They will not read individual meters attached to each unit in a mutli-unit building and they cannot issue separate bills to tenants of those units, as the obligation for payment of the bill based on their reading of the building’s main meter, rests with the building owner alone. The reason why it is our proposition that the loss of the ability to undertake this calculation and process each individual unit’s water usage charge, is an unintended consequence of the review and amendments of the applicable legislation and regulations, is because despite the introduction of the definition of the term “separately metered “ the provisions of s.39(2) remain untouched post review. Taking away the ability for building owners in this specific situation to charge individual tenants for their personal usage from their individual residential unit, will only encourage waste of this precious resource because the financial imperative to be responsible water users will now be lost. Further, this will inevitably lead to pressure to increase rents across the board to compensate the building owner for having to pay for each individual unit occupant’s collective water usage. We do not believe that the above can be an intended consequence of the review of the applicable legislation and regulations. It is very telling that at a recent attendance of a hearing regarding a bond dispute over a terminating residential tenancy at NCAT, the presiding member of the matter, after awarding a water usage charge component as part of the overall monetary compensation in our favour, mentioned this very fact. He stated that firstly, in our buildings assessing a water usage charge will no longer be allowed once the new legislation and regulations are operational, secondly he mentioned the negative environmental impact it will have because there will be on financial imperative on users for uncontrolled water usage and thirdly, the inevitable inflationary pressure this will cause and how rents will have to increase to compensate building owners for once again being burdened with a charge, that until the review was applied to the user and acted as a restraint on waste for this very reason. The remedy for this unintended consequence, and to return to a system that is environmentally and economically responsible where users are only ever charged for water they actually use, is either to remove the words “ by the supplier “, from section (d) of the definition of “ separately metered “ in the RTARB, or more broadly define who can be considered a “supplier” in this said legislation or their regulations We respectfully request that our submission and remedy be considered and implemented.

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

    No See above.

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

    Yes. See above.

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

  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?

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

  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?

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

  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?

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

  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?

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

  39. Are the prescribed savings and transitional provisions appropriate?

    not considered or covered in this submission

  40. Are any other savings or transitional provisions required?

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

    not considered or covered in this submission

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

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