NEW RENTAL LAWS INTRODUCED IN NSW
The much-debated Residential Tenancies Act reforms have finally passed – and the major changes affect the real estate industry, landlords and tenants.
The Minister for Better Regulation, Matt Kean said there were a number of significant reforms that make life easier for tenants, particularly with more than 30 per cent of the NSW population now renting.
“These reforms have struck the right balance by increasing tenants’ rights, while also protecting a landlord’s investment,” Mr Kean said. “Renting families can now make their house feel more like a home, with greater clarity around what minor alterations they can carry out. And they will also enjoy a set of basic standards so their home is up to scratch when they move in.”
Under the changes, all rental properties must meet a set of liveable standards, including:
Adequate natural or artificial lighting and ventilation
The new laws stipulate that properties for rent must have basic access to electricity or gas, be structurally sound, have adequate natural or artificial lighting and ventilation, and have adequate outlets for lighting, heating and appliances.
Tenants will be able to make minor alterations but there are limits on this. They must still get written approval from the landlord before doing any alterations to the property, however landlords must not “unreasonably refuse” requests from a tenant to add a fixture or make a minor change to the property. Examples could include things such as installing child safety locks on windows, connecting pay television to the property, or adding picture hooks in rooms which don’t have any.
However, the landlord can say no to things such as painting the property, making structural changes or any work that can’t easily be repaired or removed. If there is a dispute, the matter can still be taken to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.
It’s up to tenants to make sure the property is in good condition when they move in, but if something
down or needs fixing urgently, the new rules allow tenants extra rights to get repairs done. This includes things such as a water leak, a broken toilet, a gas leak or serious storm or flood damage. A broken heater or air conditioner would also qualify. If the repairs are not done, then the tenant applies to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal which can then place orders on the landlord, reduce rent, or order compensation depending on the circumstances. None of this applies if the tenant causes the damage, in which case they must cover the cost of repairs.
Once a fixed term lease has run its course, it can then continue week to week and this is called a periodic tenancy. The changes restrict rent increases for periodic leases to once every 12 months and include set fees for breaking a fixed-term lease. Renters must get 60 days’ notice of rent increases in writing.
Domestic violence protections
The changes also strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence, allowing tenants to escape a violent partner by immediately breaking a lease without penalty.
DO COMMUTE TIMES AFFECT SYDNEY RENTS?
The city of Sydney is one of the world’s most liveable – but key to that liveability is our ability to move. Smash Delta has discovered some compelling data about proximity and public transport access to the CBD and residential rents – and they’re not always what you might think.
Smash Delta’s study of public transport access to Sydney’s CBD reveals significant disparities in rental values for those closer to the CBD and those with similar levels of access. Areas like Zetland and Marrickville share the same public transport CBD travel time (26 minutes), but rents in Zetland are, on average, $220/week higher than Marrickville. As we move beyond 40-45 minutes travel time, however, the CBD public transport travel time has a much smaller impact on rentals.
For those working in Sydney’s CBD, similar levels of city access can be achieved in the South at far cheaper housing costs than in the Inner West. For instance: Leichhardt has a 42-minute travel time at $585/week average rental costs, while Bexley is 38 minutes and $455 respectively. Time for a change? Also consider Rhodes and Belmore, or Dulwich Hill and Rockdale.
The six outermost harbour postcodes are expensive outliers, given somewhat lengthy travel times to the CBD. Their rents are also between 10-25% higher than their neighbouring suburbs, despite having longer public transport access times to the CBD.
You can view all of Smash Delta’s findings at the following link: https://smashdelta.com/smartcities, which takes you through an interactive tour of Sydney.