Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill passes first reading

  • Hon Chris Bishop

The Coalition Government’s Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill, which will improve tenancy laws and help increase the supply of rental properties, has passed its first reading in Parliament says Housing Minister Chris Bishop.

“The Bill proposes much-needed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 that will remove barriers to increasing private rental housing supply, as well as introduce “pet bond” provisions,” Mr Bishop says.

“The previous Government’s war on landlords ultimately caused worse outcomes for tenants: rents up by $170 per week since 2017, the social housing waitlist increasing by about 20,000 families, and thousands of families living in emergency housing motels.

The changes, which are part of the National-ACT coalition agreement, include:

  • Reintroducing landlords’ ability to give notice to end a fixed-term tenancy at the end of the term without requiring a specific reason.
  • Reintroducing 90-day ‘no cause’ terminations for periodic tenancies, meaning landlords can end a periodic tenancy without requiring a specific reason.
  • Introducing pet bonds (set at a maximum of two weeks’ rent) that can be charged in addition to the existing bond where a tenant wants to have a pet at the property.
  • Providing that tenants may only have a pet or pets with the consent of the landlord, who can only withhold consent on reasonable grounds.
  • Making tenants liable for all pet damage to properties beyond fair wear and tear.

“The Government’s sensible pro-tenant changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, alongside the introduction of interest deductibility, will help increase the supply of rental properties by giving landlords the confidence to enter or re-enter the private rental market, and it will give people a better chance to secure a rental.

“The previous government’s law changes around fixed-term tenancies also caused chaos in markets like Queenstown, Waiheke Island and Dunedin.”

“We’ve also heard from many renters that it’s far too hard to find a rental home when you have a pet or want to get one. Pets are important members of so many Kiwi families, and we think it’s only right to make it easier to rent a home with your furry friend.

“The Bill makes it far easier to have a pet in a rental property in two ways: it requires landlords to only withhold consent for their tenants to have a pet on reasonable grounds, which might include things like whether the property has suitable fencing for a dog, for example.

“It also allows landlords to charge an additional two-week bond in case the pet causes damage to the property, giving the landlord greater reassurance that they won’t be left out of pocket through allowing Mr Fluffy Bum to move in with his person.

“The Government expects most of the changes in the Bill to come into effect in early 2025, with the pet changes coming once the bond system has been updated, expected to be later in 2025.

“The Bill has now been referred to the Social Services and Community Committee where people are invited to have their say through the submission process to the Committee.”

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