What the changes to the NSW Residential Tenancies Act means for you

In October 2018, NSW Parliament passed the NSW Residential Tenancies Amendment Review Act— this will implement a range of amendments to our current legislation with most to take effect as of 23 March 2020. We would like to introduce some of these changes to our landlords, tenants and investor clients.


Under the new legislation the amount that a landlord can recover as a break fee (where a tenant wishes to terminate a tenancy agreement whilst still in the fixed lease) is going to be reduced considerably. Similar to the current break fee method the amount will depend on the amount of time that has expired on the current fixed term lease agreement at the time of breaking the lease. The new fees are outlined below—


It is no longer the tenant’s responsibility to have smoke alarms in working order. Landlords must have working smoke alarms installed in the prescribed areas and to have them tested annually to ensure that they are in working order. Removable batteries must be replaced in all smoke alarms in the period specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer (otherwise annually). There are set time frames on repair or replacement of a smoke alarm that isn’t working which is 2 days and alarms need to be replaced prior to the alarm expiry date provided by the smoke alarm manufacturer.


The new regulation lists a number of ‘minor alterations’ that have been defined as unreasonable for a landlord to withhold consent. These changes would be at the tenants cost for installation, and they are still required to gain the landlords written consent prior to installing or making the change. Such examples that have been specified as changes of a minor nature are things such as installing child safety gates, window latches, securing furniture to walls, installing or replacing fly screens and window coverings, installing hooks, screws or nails to hang paintings & installation of plants and shrubs in garden beds.


Whilst there are currently provisions in place for disclosure of information to tenants there have been further disclosures added such as ; if the property has been used for manufacture or cultivation of prohibited drug or plant and if there are limitations such as a fire safety order, building rectification order or major works planned on a strata scheme.


The landlord must gain written permission form a tenant to publish photographs from inside the property that contain the tenants belongings. It states that a tenant must not unreasonably withhold consent unless they are a victim of domestic violence.


Existing water efficiency requirements have not changed but it has been stipulated that all tapware needs to be checked at the commencement of each tenancy, and taps and toilets are to be checked when any other water efficiency measures are installed, repaired or upgraded and any leaks fixed. This applies to existing and new tenancy agreements commencing 23rd March 2020. Ina addition from 23 March 2025 all toilets in a rental property must be dual flush with a minimum 3 star rating in accordance with WELS scheme. Our tradespeople have been informed of this change and we will begin to discuss a replacement plan for any properties with single flush toilets.


Rent increases on periodic (expired) tenancies will be limited to once every 12 months.

This is just a summary of the changes coming into effect, for further information and rectification please refer to the Office of Fair trading link below: 


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