On 24 March 2022, the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Tenant Protections and Flood Response) Bill 2022 was introduced into parliament which proposes changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW).
Although the title would suggest the amendment relates to changes surrounding the recent floodings in Northern NSW, the amendment instead focuses on changes to the core sections of the Residential Tenancies Act. These changes will directly affect how tenants and landlords can occupy, price, and vacate a property.
The most controversial and significant of the proposed changes are:
- Removal of the no grounds termination notice;
- Restrictions on termination at the end of a fixed-term lease;
- Introduction of restrictions and a cap on rent increases;
- Landlords to be responsible for keeping the premises free from mould or else the premises (irrespective of whether they are habitable or not) will be deemed to be unfit for habitation; and
- Landlords will be required to ensure properties have adequate waterproofing (creating ambiguity given the subjective nature of what this will require and notwithstanding the fact that landlords and property managers are not licensed, qualified or experienced building contractors).
These changes would mean that landlords would no longer have the right to terminate an expired tenancy unless they had one of the following reasons:
- The landlord requires the residential premises for the landlord’s own use, or the use of a member of the landlord’s family, for a period not less than 12 months
- The landlord wishes to carry out renovations or repairs to the residential premises that will render the premises uninhabitable for a period not less than 4 weeks
- The residential premises will be used in a way, or subject to circumstances, that will render the premises unable to be used as a residence for a period not less than 6 months.
A realistic fear is that if these proposed changes are effected, investors will withdraw from the property market and put their funds into other investment strategies. This would remove available rentals and make the current vacancy rates even lower, creating a larger housing issue. Although the proposed changes don’t intend this, this would likely be an unexpected side effect.
It is important for those creating legislation to remember that when it comes to investment properties, they are for all intents and purposes investments. If the risk is too high, the return too low or the strategy too difficult – people will simply pull out.
Let me know your thoughts on the proposed changes and I would encourage you to contact your local MP if your feel this will affect your investment strategy.