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Key Changes to Landlord Law Come March 2020

By Silvia Wei

With more than 30 percent of the NSW population now renting, changes to NSW tenancy laws are timely and critical as demand for quality rental properties continues to grow.

NSW Fair Trading has highlighted a number of tenancy law changes set to kick off on 23 March 2020.

The changes will increase protection and certainty for tenants, clarify the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords and reduce disputes over repairs and maintenance.

Key changes include:

  • landlords must ensure that their rental property meets 7 minimum standards to be ‘fit for habitation’
  • new and improved disclosure obligations on landlords and agents as well as new remedies for tenants when these obligations aren’t met
  • landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are in working order
  • 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 leases that are 3 years or less
  • limiting rent increases to once every 12 months for periodic (continuing) leases
  • new powers for 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.

The aforementioned seven minimum standards are:

1. Structurally sound property.

2. Adequate natural or artificial lighting in each room, except storage rooms or garages.

3. Adequate ventilation.

4. Supplied with electricity or gas and has adequate electricity or gas outlets for lighting, heating and appliances.

5. Adequate plumbing and drainage.

6. Connected to a water supply service or infrastructure for the supply of hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning.

7. Contains bathroom facilities, including toilet and washing facilities, which allow user privacy.

“All NSW landlords will need to ensure that their rented properties meet the minimum standards to be fit for habitation by 23 March 2020. Rented properties are already required to be fit for habitation and should already meet these basic standards,” NSW Fair Trading said.

“If a rented property meets the minimum standards, it does not automatically mean that it is ‘fit for habitation’, as these are baseline standards and are not a full list of whether a property is fit for habitation.

“These standards must be met at the start of each tenancy and must be maintained throughout the tenancy (by way of repairs).”

More detailed information on the new laws is available on NSW Fair Trading website.

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