Today changes to the Residential Tenancies Act come into place, in the biggest shake-up of tenancy law in 35 years.

Here are some of the key changes coming into force:

Landlords can no longer evict someone without good reason. Previously, landlords were able to end periodic tenancies with 90 days notice without needing to provide any justification. 

Landlords will still be able to end a tenancy if they or their family wish to move into the house, or if the house is going to be sold or renovated.

Tenants can now make minor changes to a property, like painting a wall or hanging a picture. 

It will be illegal for a landlord to refuse a minor change. When the tenancy ends, the tenant must return the property to the way it originally was (unless the landlord agrees the minor change can stay in place).

Renters have the right to remain at the end of a fixed term. This means that unless you agree otherwise with your landlord, at the end of your fixed-term, you can continue to live on the premise until other arrangements are made.

Rent bidding is now illegal, which means landlords must list a price when advertising a property and cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid or offer more.

Landlords must consider requests to reassign tenancies. This means that landlords have to be more reasonable when dealing with requests to pass on tenancies to someone else. 

There will be stricter penalties for landlords who break the rules. The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000. This is a change from $50,000.

Manager of the Tenants Protection Association (Christchurch) Penny Arthur says the changes mean we should “see tenants be treated with a bit more dignity and respect as a result, and therefore being able to be a bit more settled in their homes.”

But some landlords are concerned with the new changes taking place.

Andrew Bruce, who has been a landlord for more than 20 years, told 1 News that because it will now be harder to evict tenants, he will be a lot more careful with who he chooses. 

“The changes are really going to affect the more vulnerable tenants who unfortunately will probably end up having to start relying more on the social housing type providers.” he said.

Penny has a different take on the situation. “Tenants in those sorts of situations are actually already struggling to find a tenancy. There are landlords though that actually will give people a chance,” she said.

Penny also made the point that once people are in a tenancy, they are far better off under the new legislation. “Now, you can’t go give a 90-day notice because you might think there will be problems in the future. Landlords need a reason.”  

Associate Housing Minister Poto Williams told 1 News that landlords “will use this as an opportunity to recognise that this actually will build some consistency for them in terms of continuation of rental income.”

The changes to the Residential Tenancies Act were made in August 2020, and have come into force in three stages. The first stage stopped landlords from increasing rent more than once a year. This is the second round of changes.

The third round will come into force in August, about tenancies in dangerous situations.