Real Estate Reforms

Written on the 22 March 2020

Real Estate Reforms

The Property Industry Reforms and changes to the residential tenancies legislation come into effect on 23 March 2020. See below points on how this may affect your investment property. Fair Trading have finalised the new Residential Tenancy prescribed forms to accompany the updated Residential Tenancy Act and Regulations.

Current tenancy agreements will be exempt whether they are in fixed term or in periodic agreement however not all existing agreement clauses will be carried through. Some of the changes will not apply to existing agreements entered into before 23 March 2020. For example:

new mandatory break lease fees only apply to new fixed-term agreements that are 3 years or less
new landlord information statement requirements only apply when entering into a new residential tenancy agreement
new requirements around condition reports apply when the tenancy agreement is given to the tenant for signing
new information disclosure obligations apply before entering into a new residential tenancy agreement.
domestic violence termination clauses in previous agreements are superseded by the new laws

From 23 March 2020, it will be easier for tenants to make a rented property feel like home by installing fixtures or making alterations, additions or renovations that are minor.

Tenants are currently allowed to install fixtures or make alterations, additions or renovations if they have the landlord's written consent, or if the residential tenancy agreement permits it. If the tenant's request is of a 'minor nature', the landlord must not unreasonably refuse or place conditions on the consent. The tenant is responsible for paying for the fixture they install, or for any alteration, addition or renovation they make.

The new laws will specify the kinds of fixtures or alterations, additions or renovations that are minor where it would be unreasonable for the landlord to say no. Some of these are:

securing furniture to a non-tiled wall for safety reasons
inserting fly screens on windows
installing or replacing an internal window covering e.g. curtains and removable blinds
installing window safety devices for child safety (excluding properties in a strata scheme)
installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings, picture frames and other similar items
installing a phone line or internet connection
planting vegetables, flowers, herbs or shrubs (shrubs that don't grow more than 2 meters) in the garden if existing vegetation or plants do not need to be removed

Tenants will need to make sure they get the landlord's written permission before they install a fixture or make an alteration, addition or renovation, even if it is in the above list.

The changes don't apply if a property is listed on the loose-fill asbestos insulation register, or if the property is a heritage item.

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