The Government has clarified perceived ‘grey areas’ in the Residential Tenancy legislation bringing into force amendments of national importance, in an attempt to protect the most vulnerable throughout this lockdown period.
We’ve summarised the four main points, that all tenants and landlords need to know:
Termination of tenancies
A tenancy CANNOT be terminated by the landlord, unless in exceptional circumstances i.e. extensive damage, rent is 60+days in arrears, death of tenant, or the property has been abandoned. However, a tenant is still able to give 21 days’ notice to end their tenancy. Any landlord found in breach of this provision could be found liable for exemplary damages of up to $6,500.
A tenant is not permitted to vacate or move into a property
A tenant can enter into and terminate a tenancy agreement at any time. However, the tenant is not permitted to physically take possession of a property from 27 March 2020. A tenant will need to remain in their current property and pay usual rent until the lockdown is lifted. This may mean that if a tenant had signed a tenancy agreement for another property which was due to commence during the lockdown period, that tenant may be liable for both rents. It is important for a tenant to communicate with both landlords about the circumstances and come to an arrangement for this period.
A rent freeze has come in force where any scheduled rent increases have been cancelled effective from 27th March for a period of 6 months. Any landlord who impose any rent increases during the next 6 months could be liable for exemplary damages.
Rent is still payable during the lockdown period
A tenant is not permitted to cancel, or delay rent payments, unless they do so in agreement with their landlord. A landlord can issue a 14-day notice if the tenant becomes in arrears. It is imperative that both tenants and landlords communicate with one another throughout this time if the tenant finds themselves experiencing any financial hardship.
In addition to these changes, which have been implemented to assist landlords and tenants to cope with the uncertainty of the current circumstances, of most utmost importance, is encouraging both landlords and tenants to communicate with one another, regularly.
If you’re a landlord or a tenant and need some further assistance regarding these changes or want to have a chat about your current situation and how these amendments may affect you; call us (07 929 4300). Our team are happy to assist.