Real estate, property and tenancy law changes commence

Significant changes to residential tenancy and real estate and property laws have now started in NSW, following the commencement of major legislative reforms on 23 March 2020.

The changes introduce new rules of conduct and a restructured licensing system for agents working in the industry. The residential tenancy changes aim to improve the renting experience and clarify the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords.

Tenancy changes

The changes aim to reduce disputes over repairs and maintenance, increase protections and certainty for tenants, clarify the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords and improve transparency between   these two parties.

Key changes include:

  • NSW landlords must ensure their rental property meets 7 minimum standards to be ‘fit for habitation’
  • new and improved disclosure obligations on landlords and their agents, including disclosure of material facts, and strengthening the remedies for tenants when these obligations aren’t met
  • landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are in working order. A penalty will apply for landlords who don’t comply
  • making it easier for tenants to install fixtures or make alterations, additions or renovations that are minor
  • mandatory set fees when a tenant breaks their lease will apply to all new fixed-term agreements that are 3 years or less
  • limiting rent increases to once every 12 months for periodic (continuing) leases
  • new powers for NSW Fair Trading to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords. This includes powers to investigate and issue rectification orders to require landlords to carry out repairs and maintenance, or tenants to fix damage.

Further information is available on the new residential tenancy laws reforms page.

Real estate and property changes

The real estate and property law changes aim to improve training standards and professionalism in the real estate and property sector. Licence types have been reduced to just three simple categories: real estate, stock and station, and strata management, and the rules of conduct that apply to agents have been extended.

The reforms also:

  • clarify agents’ permitted functions according to the licence or certificate of registration they hold
  • improve disclosure obligations
  • enhance qualification and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements
  • improve accountability by requiring businesses to nominate a single licensee in charge for each part of the business, responsible for supervision and trust account management
  • minimise conflicts of interest by setting a maximum dollar value of gifts and benefits, and
  • establish separate trust accounts for rental and sales money.

The changes have been developed following extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including tenants, landlords, real estate agents, stock and station agents, strata managing agents, on-site residential property managers, business agents and other experts in the field.

Further information is available on the recent property reforms page.