For those NSW landlords, or those thinking of shortly becoming one, you might find this article worthwhile reading. Dept of Fair Trading minister, Linda Burney, is currently encouraging tenants and landlords to have their say on the proposed changes to the RTA (Residential Tenancies Act 1987) which are the first, in almost 20 years, to be considered in the Act. Key reforms include: Set timeframes for tenants to find other accommodation when a mortgagee repossesses the property Proposal: Tenants must be given 30 days notice to vacate when the landlord defaults on the mortgage and a bank or financial institution seeks to recover possession. Measures to improve and clarify the rights and responsibilities of co-tenants Proposal: For the first time in NSW, the co-tenant relationship will be legally recognised. This will make it easier for tenants to have their name removed from a lease when they move out. Co-tenants will also be able to seek an order from the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) to terminate the tenancy altogether or remove one or more tenants from the premises. Former co-tenants will be able to seek an order from the CTTT for a refund of their share of the bond. Streamlined processes to deal with tenants who fall behind with their rent Proposal: Shortening the process for evicting tenants who do not pay rent at the same time as guaranteeing continuation of tenancy for those who fall behind with their rent but catch up. Changes to encourage landlords and tenants to save water Proposal: As an incentive to save water, tenants who live in properties where water is separately metered will pay for their own water usage. Landlords will be encouraged to install water-saving devices such as showerheads. Sydney Water data shows that after these measures were introduced in public housing, water consumption has reduced by 29%. More rights for tenants when the owner wants to sell during a lease Proposal: Tenants will be entitled to notice of the owner’s intention to sell and a negotiated rent reduction where inspections are carried out during a fixed term tenancy. Tenants can also choose to terminate the fixed term lease without penalty with 21 days notice if there was no pre-disclosure of the intention to sell. More flexibility for tenants to make cosmetic changes to the property Proposal: Tenants will be permitted to make minor improvements or add fixtures at their own expense provided they obtain the landlord’s prior consent. This cannot be unreasonably refused unless the proposed changes are irreparable or structural. Changes to the payment of interest on rental bonds Proposal: NSW is only one of two States that currently pay interest on rental bonds. Instead of paying tenants 0.01% p.a. on their rental bond at the end of a tenancy, which equates to around a 25 cents return on the average $1200 bond over a two year period, the small amount presently used to pay interest (approx $80,000 p.a.) will go towards funding advocacy and advice services for tenants, as well as the CTTT and Rental Bond Board. Improving the fairness and transparency of ‘bad tenant’ databases Proposal: Further protection against ‘blacklisting’ through controls on tenancy databases and access to the CTTT to challenge listings. For the whole article see here. Closing date for submissions is Dec 31 2007.