News From the Beehive

Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No2) – Second Reading

Thursday night saw the second reading of the RTA Bill.

We thought it important to highlight some of the discussions that were held during the reading. The most important thing to note is that the reading has the support of all Governmental Parties in the house. Below is a few sections that we feel should be noted.

The amendment now empowers the tribunal with full powers to issue fines and order compensation against Landlords for renting out an unlawful premise. The Bill removes all defence against unlawful premises known as the “Justice Cook Ruling”. An Unlawful premise includes the Landlord and the premise.

For a full transcript please follow this link:

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development):
I move, That the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) be now read a second time……………………..

  • I also want to thank those who have made oral and written submissions on the bill. Those submitters represented a very good cross-section of groups and individuals with an interest in the tenancy sector, including tenants’ rights groups, landlords, property investors, property managers, students’ associations, charities, community groups, and many individuals, and the committee’s report includes a number of very sensible recommendations that improve the bill.
  • The bill will make it a requirement that if the property is insured, new tenancy agreements must state this—the obligation of landlords to make transparent and inform the tenants about the insurance policy
  • The final set of amendments relate to unlawful residential premises. No changes have been made through the committee process to these provisions, which the submitters generally supported. The bill, however, amends the definition of residential premises to ensure that all premises which are used or intended to be used for residential occupation are covered by the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act regardless of whether they can be lawfully occupied for residential purposes. This confirms once and for all that the Tenancy Tribunal has full jurisdiction over all rental premises, lawful or otherwise.The bill then sets out the orders the tribunal may make if premises are found to be unlawful for residential use. These are important amendments. They will ensure that the tenants are accorded the full suite of rights and protections of the Residential Tenancies Act and that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment can take appropriate compliance action against landlords who rent out unlawful rental properties.

Andrew Bayley  (National):

  • This bill is about striking a balance between protecting the rights of landlords and also the position of tenants.

Hon Jacui Dean (National):

  • First of all, tenants being liable for the cost of the landlord’s insurance excess, up to a maximum of four weeks if there intentional damage to a rental property, but also on the other side of that ledger, a requirement for landlords to include, within their tenancy agreement, a written statement as to whether or not the premises are insured. That’s a very fair positon to land at. It strengthens the law around prosecuting landlords who tenant unsuitable properties. Garages are seldom suitable properties for housing tenants of any nature.
  • So I do commend the Minister for continuing with this bill. It is a good bill and we do support it in its second reading.

Hon Ron Mark (Minister of Defence):

  • …and it is comforting to know that in this particular instance, where we’re talking about residential tenancies—and I know that in the past, there’s been quite a difference of opinion between the National Party, now in Opposition, and other parties in the House as to what the responsibilities of a good landlord should be.
  • ….here on this piece of legislation the select committee has found common ground and found unanimity, which I think gives me confidence that we have hit the right place.

Jan Logie (Green):

  • So it is with a huge sense of relief, post change of Government, to see some actual rigorous science in this area and some legislation that is sensible and that enables some science-based regulation of this issue, rather than a hysterical, industry-driven response that hurts our communities and families. So—tick—it’s good to see that change, Minister Twyford.
  • ….is about ensuring that illegal dwellings that we’re trying to change the behaviour, where some unscrupulous people are renting out spaces that are completely inappropriate for people to live in.
  • So what this legislation will do now is give the Tenancy Tribunal full jurisdiction over cases concerning premises unlawful for residential purpose, and it will enable the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to take action against landlords in those cases. Some of the examples that were given around unlawful residential premises are commercial buildings being used for residential purposes, existing dwellings being used for more than one household group, garages being rented out for residential use, and premises which don’t have appropriate resource consent. Going through the Tenancy Tribunal, they will then have the power for those specific remedies, which may be a full or a partial return of rent to the tenants, or an order for the landlord to make alterations to make the dwelling lawful.

Brett Hudson (National):

  • ….consideration remains a good bill.

Ginny Anderson (Labour):

  • Secondly, this bill clarifies to make sure that the Residential Tenancies Act applies to all premises intended for residential use, even if they are, in fact, unlawful.
  • this bill sets out the rights and responsibilities that parties have in relation to contaminants and contamination, specifically to methamphetamine.

Simon O’Connor (National):

  • Look, it’s obviously a very good bill.

Hamish Walker (National):

  • Look, it’s obviously a very good bill.

Hon Ruth Dyson (Labour – Port Hills):

  • The second change that is substantial in the bill as reported back from the committee is ensuring that tenants have a right to know the level of their liability for careless damage.
  • They shift the balance of entitlement for the tenants, in terms of having factual information about their liability, and they use science as the basis of a regulatory regime in dealing with contamination.

The Certificate of Compliance will provide evidence to Landlords that their rental properties meet all minimum regulations while at the same time providing them with a livibility rating. We encourage all Landlords and Property Managers to get in contact with us now to book a Certificate of Compliance.

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