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Physical assault and family violence sections of the RTA delayed, pending regulations

The final two sections of the RTA Amendment Act 2020 are still awaiting regulations to be established.

Section 55AA (Termination by notice for physical assault by tenant) and Section 56B (Withdrawal from tenancy following family violence) were meant to commence from August 11, but the use of these provisions has been delayed.

“These changes rely on regulations that are currently being developed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),” Tenancy Services Acting Engagement Lead said.

“These regulations will not be in place by 11 August 2021. It’s important that the Government takes time to consult with relevant organisations and make sure the regulations are appropriate.

“This means that landlords and tenants won’t be able to use these provisions under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 until the associated regulations come into effect.”

The two provisions affected by this are summarised below.

Summary of changes under Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020

Physical assault

The regulations will provide more detail on the sections currently in the Act. Once the regulations come into effect: 

– if a tenant physically assaults:

– the landlord or owner

– a member of the landlord or owner’s family, or

– an agent of the landlord,

– the landlord can issue a 14-day notice to end the tenancy. A formal charge must be laid by the Police. The landlord will not need to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.

–  The landlord must advise the tenant of their right to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to challenge the notice. If the tenant challenges it, the tenancy won’t end unless there is a Tenancy Tribunal order.

– The regulations will specify the information that landlords must include in the 14-day notice for termination in this situation.

Before the regulations are developed, landlords in this situation can still apply to end the tenancy through the Tenancy Tribunal.

Family violence

The regulations will provide more detail on the section currently in the Act. Once the regulations come into effect:

– A tenant who experiences family violence during a tenancy can withdraw from that tenancy by giving the landlord at least two days’ notice. The tenant will need to provide evidence of the family violence.

–  The regulations will outline what the tenant must include in a family violence withdrawal notice and the acceptable forms of evidence.

– The tenant must also notify any remaining tenants within two days of withdrawing. The remaining tenants will receive a rent reduction for two weeks following the withdrawal. The law outlines how this should be calculated. This won’t apply if they are paying income-related rent. In this case, the remaining tenants should talk to their landlord.

– If the person experiencing family violence is the only tenant, the tenancy will end.

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