Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 now in effect


Tuesday 27 August marks the beginning of a number of changes for tenants, landlords and property managers as the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 comes into effect.

One of the most significant changes is in regard to liability for careless or accidental damage to a rental property. From today, tenants may be held liable for the cost of careless damage up to four week’s rent or the landlord’s insurance excess, whichever is lower.

For tenants to understand just how much they would need to pay in the event of damage, from today landlords need to provide insurance information, including the excess details, to new tenants. An Insurance Statement template is available here on the Tenancy website. Landlords also need to inform tenants that a copy of their insurance policy is available on request. Also outlined in the changes to the RTA, is that for existing tenancies insurance information must be provided within a “reasonable” timeframe.

Another change that came into effect today is in regard to “unlawful” premises which were previously not captured under the RTA. The definition of “residential premises” has been updated to include premises that are lived in, regardless of whether they legally can be (such as sleep-outs or garages). This change gives the Tenancy Tribunal full jurisdiction to enforce the RTA if breached.

Finally, new regulations will also be developed over the coming year, prescribing the acceptable level for contaminants such as methamphetamine. The regulations will also prescribe the processes for testing and decontamination of contaminants. The changes note that 48 hours’ notice must be given to tenants before testing while they are living there. Tenants must be advised what contaminant is being tested for, and the results of the test (in writing) within 7 days of receiving them.

For more information about the changes, visit the Tenancy Services website.