MRFQ’s views on the government proposals released in the Regulatory Impact Statement on December 16, 2019 are:
1. Ending Tenancies Fairly
We strongly support the recommended option and the withdrawal of without ground notices to leave. We support the addition of the following reasonable grounds to end tenancies:
- when the lessor or their immediate family will move in;
- the premises will need to be vacant for at least four weeks to undertake significant repair or renovation; and.
- for renters experiencing domestic or family violence
We do not support any other additional grounds.
We do not support any reduction of notice periods for termination notices by lessors.
We believe there should be penalties applied for the misuse of the lawful grounds to end tenancies, and the potential for renters to claim compensation.
2. Minimum Standards
We strongly support the recommended option, the inclusion of minimum standards for rental properties and the strengthened repair and maintenance proposals outlined in the Regulatory Impact Statement. In particular we support the new repair orders so they will:
- apply to a premises not a tenancy;
- stop a rental property being rented out and/or rent capped until a repair order is complied with;
- allow the Residential Tenancies Authority to enforce the order; and,
- for advocates to be able to seek repair orders on behalf of renters.
3. Renting with Pets
We strongly support the recommended option that would require lessors to have a reasonable ground (prescribed by law) to deny a tenant’s request for a pet when it complies with other laws and by-laws prohibiting the pet/pet type.
In stage two, these reforms should go further to better support renters with pets during the application process.
We do not support a pet bond, because tenants already pay bonds. Any requirement for tenants to undertake carpet cleaning or pest control should only be related to the pet type. For example, flea control should be applicable for dogs and cats, but not goldfish.
4. Minor Modifications
We support the recommended option with some variation. Renters should have the ability to undertake health and safety or amenity minor modifications with prior notification to the lessor. A definition of minor modifications should be included in the changes and qualified tradesman used (only) when appropriate. If the lessor opposes the tenant’s proposed minor modifications, the lessor should be required to use the dispute resolution process within a prescribed timeframe.
A government fund should be established for low income renters who require health and safety modifications (e.g. grab rails) if they are required to restore the property on exit.
5. Domestic and Family Violence
We strong support the recommended option which allows a tenant or co-tenant experiencing domestic and family violence to end their tenancy more easily when they have evidence from specialist worker. We also support processes to help them get their bond back more quickly and make security and safety changes.