Change to Swimming Pool Provisions have been delayed

The NSW Office of Local Government has announced that the provisions that require a property with a swimming pool to have a certificate of compliance before it can be SOLD or LEASED will now commence on 29 APRIL 2015 (NOT 2014) an extension of 12 months.

This means that the requirement to attach a valid Certificate of Compliance or current Occupation Certificate to the Contract for Sale or to the Residential Tenancy Agreement will now not apply until 29 April 2015.

Click here to view NSW Office of Local Government circular to councils.

For further information members can call EAC Agency Practice Support on 1300 137 161

Changes to NSW Fair Trading fact sheets

NSW Fair Trading has amended its fact sheets for tenants and below is an overview of the changes.

Breaking a lease early
Property managers would be aware of the controversial issue relating to the interpretation of s.26 and s.100 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 as discussed  in the 14 March communication, Important tenancy issue, sent by EAC Compliance & Practice Support. If you missed it. If you are a Member and did not see it please contact Practice Support on  1300 137 161 and we can arrange to get it sent through to you.

Details of fact sheet changes
The text in the January 2011 fact sheet, Break a lease early, (see last bullet point under the sub-heading, ‘Breaking the agreement) has been changed and the words “a contract for sale had been drawn up” have been removed. The change brings the fact sheet in line with Fair Trading’s present interpretation of the legislation.

Former text:
“the landlord has put the premises on the market for sale, and you were not told before signing the lease that a contract for sale had been drawn up.”
March 2012 FTR78 text:
“the landlord has put the premises on the market for sale, and you were not told before signing the lease that the property would be sold.”

Rent increases
Last year, NSW State Parliament passed the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, which contained amendments to residential tenancies legislation including s.42 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 for rent increases under fixed term agreements. The change to the fact sheet brings it into line with the amended provision.

The text in the January 2011 version, under the sub-heading, ‘During the fixed term’, paragraphs 1 and 2 read as follows:

(1) “During a fixed term agreement of 2 years or less…”
(2) “During a fixed term agreement of more than 2 years…”

The text in February 2012 FTR85 reads as follows:

(1) “During a fixed term agreement of less than 2 years …”
(2) “During a fixed term agreement of 2 years or more …”

Getting your bond back
Text that appeared in the January 2011 fact sheet has been removed in the updated version, March 2012 FTR79. Although the changes are minor, if you include this fact sheet in your information folders to tenants it is recommended that you use the latest version.

Important changes to NSW Residential Tenancies Legislation

Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011

NSW State Parliament recently passed the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011. The Statute Law Revision program enables minor amendments and corrections to various Acts without the need to prepare separate amendment Bills. The amendments in Schedule 1 in part contain amendments that deal with residential tenancies legislation.

The changes in brief

1.8 Residential Tenancies Act 2010 No 42 (the Act)
Items [1] and [2] refer to sections 22 and 33 respectively and insert the words “or landlord’s agent” which extends the offence to also apply to the agent.

Item [3] refers to section 36 and creates an exemption for New South Wales Land and Housing Corporation and the Aboriginal Housing Office from the requirements relating to rent receipts.

Item [4] refers to section 42 and relates to rent increases under fixed term agreements. The provision has changed so that it now applies to an agreement for a fixed term of less than 2 years (originally applied for a term of 2 years or less). This means the rent may be increased where the term is exactly two years. Note that there is no change to section 99, which is a related provision. We understand this section will be amended at some time in the future.

In addition, the requirement to specify, in an agreement for a fixed term of less than 2 years, the amount of a proposed increase in rent is replaced with a requirement to specify the increased rent (this ensures consistency between sections 41 and 42 of the Act).

Item [5] renames section 89 and adds a new subsection (6). It clarifies that if the Tribunal makes a termination order because it is satisfied that a tenant has frequently failed to pay rent owing, in accordance with section 89(5), a warrant for possession may be issued, even if the tenant has paid all the rent owing or complied with a repayment plan.

Items [6] and [7] refer to section 102 and make it clear that an order made by the Tribunal to terminate the tenancy of a co-tenant is taken to be an order for the possession of the premises in favour of the remaining tenant or co-tenants. Accordingly, a warrant for possession may be issued in favour of the remaining tenant or co-tenants.

Item [8] refers to section 110 and it transfers to the Act a provision originally in the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010. The provision makes it clear that a tenant under a fixed term agreement who vacates the premises before the end of a fixed term can be liable to pay rent for the balance of the fixed term.

1.9 Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010

Clause 13 Effect of early vacation of residential premises is omitted, now not needed because of item [8] above.

Click on Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 No 27 and then select Schedule 1 for more information.

EAC comments on the Draft Residential Tenancies Bill

As you may be aware, the NSW Government recently released for community consultation a draft Bill to reform tenancy laws. The Bill is not law at this time and changes may be made to it as a result of this consultation before it is introduced to Parliament early in the new year. The Office of Fair Trading advises that it is unlikely that this new legislation will commence before July 2010.
EAC identified areas of concern and proposed changes that if implemented could create difficulties for agents and create a shortage of rental accommodation by driving investors to other more easily managed investment alternatives.
Matters of concern include the following:
  • Scope of premises to which the Act will apply
  • Abolition of tenant’s contribution to lease preparation cost
  • Condition Reports
  • Rent Receipts
  • Water efficient premises and tenant usage charges
  • Alterations by tenants to premises
  • ‘No grounds’ termination notices
  • Rent arrears evictions
  • Reduction in bond for furnished premises
When Parliament passes the Bill, it will not come into effect immediately. The existing Regulations, including a revised standard lease and condition report, will need to be re-made and this will involve further public consultation. Given the expected changes to some documents, agents should carry lower levels of stock.
Agents will have ample time to implement changes when they become law and should be cautious of any specific advice given before this occurs.
It may well be several months before the exact detail on the new laws is available.
Be assured EAC will participate in the next consultation phase and keep you fully informed.