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August 2, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Flatting Legislation Undergoes Renovation

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Students no longer able to sub-let the hot-water cupboard

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill was passed into law last month, introducing a number of amendments to the law governing rental properties.

The changes give more security to renters with greater clarity over rent hikes and multiple bonds, but also greatly increase the powers of landlords to deal with tenants who fail to pay rent for extended periods of time.

Tenants who leave a flat without making payment arrangements for outstanding rent can now be fined up to $1000 unless they have a ‘reasonable’ excuse. This has appeased property investors, but could make it harder for tenants to pay off their debts.

The legislation also covers rent increases and issues arising from tenants subletting their lounge/kitchen/sink to friends. Landlords may not increase the rent during the term of the tenancy “unless permitted by the tenancy agreement”, but tenants will be liable for damage to the rental properties and for exceeding the maximum number of allowed residents.

A landlord may not require a tenant to provide the landlord with any form of security or any payment in connection with the tenancy, including requiring an extra bond for keys.

If the tenant leaves goods that are neither foodstuffs nor other perishables, the landlord must make “all reasonable efforts to contact the tenant and to agree with the tenant on a period within which the tenant is to collect the goods”. This change will help students who have unwittingly left valuables at a former flat, but will also set a time limit for these to be picked up.

The amendments will affect all tenants of rental accommodation covered under the previous law, but will not affect premises which provide accommodation exclusively for students of one or more tertiary education providers. This includes most university halls of residences, but not boarding houses, which will now be covered under the law.

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