New law means tenants have to pay for rental damage

The Bill passed its final reading in Parliament last night.
The Bill passed its final reading in Parliament last night. Photo credit: Getty Images

New laws came into effect yesterday giving landlords more protection for damage done to their property by careless tenants. 

The law means that tenants are now liable for accidental damage made to rental properties. In the case of damage, tenants will have to pay either the landlord's insurance excess or four weeks' rent, whichever is lower. 

The Bill passed its final reading in Parliament last night. 

"These changes will provide greater certainty to landlords, minimise cost and risk, and ensure tenants have the right information when deciding if they will rent a property," says Associate Minister of Housing Kris Faafoi.

The Bill requires landlords to disclose to tenants whether they are insured and for how much. Failure to do so could lead to a $500 fine. 

As well as putting more protection in place for landlords, the Bill also included measures to clamp down on unlawful residential properties, making it easier to prosecute landlords who rent out unsuitable properties such as illegally converted garages or sleep-outs. 

"This is part of our comprehensive and ambitious plan for reform in the tenancy space. We are improving our tenancy laws so that tenants and landlords are protected and can have clear expectations before going into a tenancy," Kris Faafoi said.

Formerly, illegal dwellings were not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, meaning tenants living in illegal dwellings were unable to take landlords to the Tenancy Tribunal. 

The Bill also forces landlords to tell tenants if their property has been contaminated with methamphetamine in the past, and sets a new maximum acceptable level for contamination.

"Through this Bill, we are committed to making sure that tenants are living in safe homes while also making sure properties are not being vacated when the risk is low," said Faafoi.