IMPORTANT changes to rental laws during emergency period (COVID-19)

New laws are being considered by the Parliament and, subject to their passage, are expected to commence shortly. These laws affect tenants, property owners and agents. Read about the COVID-19 Disease (Emergency Provisions) Bill 2020 and the proposed changes to:

  • Delaying evictions
  • Breaking leases due to severe hardship
  • Reducing rent
  • Repairs, maintenance and property inspections
  • COVID-19 residential tenancy emergency provisions

    What is Rent

    Rent is the amount of money agreed to be paid by the tenant to the owner each week/fortnight, in return for ‘exclusive possession’ of the property.

    The lease will specify a payment period, for example fortnightly. Rent for each payment period must be paid in advance. The payment period can only be changed if both the tenant and owner agree.

    If the tenant pays rent using cash or cheque the owner must give the tenant a receipt that has:

    • the date rent was received
    • the period rent was received for
    • the name of the tenant
    • the address of the property the tenant paid rent for and
    • the amount received.

    A tenant cannot be charged for the payment/collection of rent.

    Advertising at a fixed price (no rent bidding)

    Rent bidding is where an owner accepts a rent amount that is higher than advertised. This is not allowed.

    Owners must advertise rental properties at a fixed price.

    Rent advertised as:

    • ‘Expressions of interest’
    • rental brackets such as rent being between two amounts (eg $100-150 pw)
    • rent being ‘from’ an amount

      are not fixed prices.

    Owners must not allow people applying to rent the property to make an offer to rent the property for more than is advertised.

    If you see or are asked to rent bid, you can report a possible breach to the Residential Tenancy Commissioner by using the Contact Us form.

    Updated: 25 Mar 2020