Finance – New rules for landlords and tenants

With the drop in interest rates as a result of Covid-19, more and more people are getting into the property market, with some purchasing their first home and others investing in rental properties.

For a lot of people this will be a fairly straightforward process, however for business owners and the self-employed the banks are looking for reassurance, and in-depth forecasts, to show that your business is stable and recovering after the Covid-19 lockdowns.

For anyone looking at investing in rental property or increasing a rental portfolio, there are changes in the residential tenancy laws that you should be aware of. These are being rolled out in three phases. Phase 1 took effect last August and saw rent increases now being permitted only once every 12 months.

Phase 2 comes into effect next week (February 11) and will see changes to the notice period for ending tenancies. For periodic tenancies, landlords will require a specific reason to end a tenancy – for example, if they are moving into the property themselves. The tenant will be required to provide 28 days notice to end the tenancy and landlords are required to give the applicable notice, depending on the circumstances.

In addition, tenants can ask to make changes to the property and landlords must not decline if the change is minor.

All rental properties being advertised will be required to show a rental price and bidding between potential tenants will not be allowed.

A written tenancy agreement will be required for all new tenancies.

As from August 11, phase 3 will allow tenants who are experiencing family violence to give two days notice to end the tenancy. Evidence will need to be provided and the law will cover both fixed-term and periodic tenancies. A landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of the assault.