The NSW government has released its findings and recommendations from its review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, with a primary focus on domestic violence victims.
Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 are expected to be introduced in the first half of 2017.
Under one proposed change, victims of domestic violence would be permitted to end their tenancy immediately without penalty if they provide evidence of a provisional, interim or final apprehended violence order (AVO) or court order.
Other amendments regarding domestic violence include removing the automatic liability of tenants for any damage caused by another individual on the premises, and prohibiting landlords and agents from listing a tenant on a tenancy database if they are aware the tenant is a victim of domestic violence.
REINSW president John Cunningham said any changes that support victims of domestic violence need to be considered to ensure the safety of tenants.
“The issues will be about the time it takes to re-let the property and who pays for any damage. We also need to look at the implications and impact it could have on insurance claims,” Mr Cunningham said.
“However, if we have provisions to avoid these issues adversely impacting landlords, then I don’t think there will be any issues from the industry at all.”
Under another proposed change, the Commissioner of Fair Trading would issue reasonable time frames for carrying out different types of repairs.
The review also recommended that landlords and agents consult tenants before taking or using any property photographs used in advertising.
It recommended notices be served and approved electronically by email or other agreed electronic methods if the parties agree.
The tenant’s checklist should include information about safety requirements related to smoke alarms, electrical safety switches and window locks, while landlords must sign a statement that outlines their rights and obligations.
In other planned changes, the payment of interest to tenants on rental bonds could be abolished, with the money spent on consumer protection instead.
Landlords and agents cannot conceal material facts about the property from the tenant, under another proposed amendment. This would include plans to sell the premises, if the property has been the scene of a serious violent crime in the last five years or if the premises have been subject to significant health or safety risks not obvious on inspection.