Some temporary changes
Due to the Covid lockdown and the ensuing impact on the country’s economy, the government has made temporary changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. These changes restrict a landlord’s ability to increase the rent or to end residential tenancies. If you are a landlord, you should read on to ensure you are not inadvertently breaching this temporary law change.
Over the period 26 March 2020 until 25 September 2020, landlords cannot increase the rent for a residential tenancy. This includes any rent increases about which you have already notified to your tenant, but had not taken effect before 26 March 2020. If you try to enforce a rent increase before 25 September 2020 you will be committing an unlawful act.
Clause 27.5 and inability to access premises
In the past three months, most landlords and tenants would have become more familiar with the details of their lease. In particular, most will be looking at how clause 27.5 of the Auckland District Law Society (ADLS) lease applies to the government-imposed lockdown that we have all experienced as a result of Covid-19.
A bit of background
Following the Christchurch earthquakes, landlords and tenants were not permitted access to leased properties that were inside the ‘red zone’ while investigations into the structural integrity of buildings were being undertaken. In these instances, where the property had not been totally or partially destroyed, the parties were still required to meet their full obligations under their lease even though they were unable to operate from their leased premises.
Contracts are commonplace in business and life. A well-drafted contract can provide certainty and clarity for businesses and others by creating legal obligations for each party to do what they say they will. But what if a party to a contract doesn’t do what they promised they would? Are you allowed to penalise that party for not fulfilling their obligations under the contract? We will explore the enforce-ability of so-called ‘penalty clauses’ in light of a recent decision in the Court of Appeal.
What is a penalty clause?
It is common for businesses to try to reduce their risk of suffering a loss under a contract. One way businesses try to minimise their risk is by including a clause in the contract that requires money to be paid to them to compensate for loss if the other party doesn’t do what they promise.
There have been a number of developments around property investment by overseas investors and also on residential tenancies.
If you are an overseas investor or a landlord, you should ensure you are up-to-date with the latest changes and/or proposals.
Update on Overseas Investment Act 2005
An overseas investor attempting to circumvent the requirements of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 has received the first criminal conviction under that legislation. In February 2020, Dr Won Joo Hur was fined $100,000 for falsely stating to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) that a property was not purchased on his behalf and providing a false loan document to support his version of events.
Frequent buying and selling of property tax rules under review
If you frequently buy and sell property, you may want to keep a close eye on Inland Revenue’s review of some property tax rules that was announced in September 2019. One area being targeted is the use of the ‘main home exemption’.
Under current rules, you may be exempt from paying tax on a property sale if the property is your main home. You cannot rely, however, on the ‘main home exemption’ if:
Affecting both landlords and tenants
The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019 came into force on 27 August 2019. This legislation affects both landlords and tenants in a number of ways including limiting a tenant’s liability for careless damage in rental properties, and how methamphetamine (meth) contamination of rental properties is to be tested and managed. Landlords are also now required to provide a statement in the tenancy agreement about the property’s insurance.
Damage to rental properties
The legislation is designed to encourage tenants (and their guests) to look after the property they rent, and for landlords not to be out-of-pocket for careless or intentional damage by their tenants.
Before you sign the lease
Commercial leases come in varying shapes and sizes. Whether you operate a transport business and need a place to park your trucks, manufacture and sell goods from a warehouse or conduct your trade from a boutique store in the heart of the CBD, your lease agreement will be at the heart of your business.
Before you sign a lease, there are a number of core issues to consider. It is important to do your homework and talk with us before you commit to anything.
Building report conditions
If you have read an agreement for sale and purchase, you are likely to have seen the term ‘building report condition’. But do you know what a building report condition actually allows you to do, and what it doesn’t?
A building report condition gives you, as the buyer, the opportunity (10 working days is the standard, but this can be lengthened or reduced) to have a suitably qualified building inspector go through your soon-to-be-settled property and report on various elements of the building including the integrity of the construction materials used and its weathertightness.
The ‘KFC test’ and tenant privacy
Following publicity in 2018 that some property managers were using the ‘KFC test’ to vet prospective tenants, landlords’ protection of their tenants’ privacy has come under scrutiny by the Privacy Commissioner. Any unlawful intrusion into your tenants’ private lives can be a costly mistake. If you are a landlord, it is timely to ask yourself, “How can I best protect my property without risking a privacy breach?”
Healthy Homes Standards: what you need to know
Becoming law in 2017, the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act establishes regulations to improve the quality of rental housing in New Zealand.
Following public consultation in 2018, the Healthy Homes Standards Regulations were approved by Cabinet on 13 May; you can find them here. The compliance timeframes in the regulations require rentals to comply with the regulations in all tenancies entered into after 1 July 2021 and all rentals will need to comply by 1 July 2024.