Real estate, property and tenancy law changes commence

Significant changes to residential tenancy and real estate and property laws have now started in NSW, following the commencement of major legislative reforms on 23 March 2020.

The changes introduce new rules of conduct and a restructured licensing system for agents working in the industry. The residential tenancy changes aim to improve the renting experience and clarify the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords.

Tenancy changes

The changes aim to reduce disputes over repairs and maintenance, increase protections and certainty for tenants, clarify the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords and improve transparency between these two parties.

Key changes include:

  • NSW landlords must ensure their rental property meets 7 minimum standards to be ‘fit for habitation’
  • new and improved disclosure obligations on landlords and their agents, including disclosure of material facts, and strengthening the remedies for tenants when these obligations aren’t met
  • landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are in working order. A penalty will apply for landlords who don’t comply
  • making it easier for tenants to install fixtures or make alterations, additions or renovations that are minor
  • mandatory set fees when a tenant breaks their lease will apply to all new fixed-term agreements that are 3 years or less
  • limiting rent increases to once every 12 months for periodic (continuing) leases
  • new powers for NSW Fair Trading to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords. This includes powers to investigate and issue rectification orders to require landlords to carry out repairs and maintenance, or tenants to fix damage.
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