Wellington, July 20 NZPA - New tenancy laws passed in Parliament today will clear up confusion around terminating and renewing tenancies and introduce financial penalties for tenants who harass neighbours and landlords providing sub-standard housing, Housing Minister Phil Heatley says.
The changes to the Residential Tenancies Act were to respond to significant change in the residential housing market since the Act's inception in 1986, he said.
The Act has also been extended to cover boarding houses.
"Over recent years, the private rental market has been increasingly important in housing those who choose, or need, to rent their homes for lifestyle or affordability reasons.
"It is therefore imperative the legislation governing the sector supports adequate provision of stable, good quality rental housing," he said.
The changes will come into force later this year.
Labour MP Chris Hipkins said the legislation should have been passed earlier -- it was introduced in September -- and would have been stronger if amendments proposed by Labour had been adopted.
* Clarifying what happens when a fixed-term tenancy expires and the process for terminating a tenancy due to non-payment of rent and other breaches.
* Measures to encourage landlords and tenants to comply with their obligations under the Act including a fine of up to $2000 for tenants harassing neighbours and up to $3000 for landlords providing sub-standard housing.
* Enhancements to dispute resolution, including increasing the monetary jurisdiction of the Tenancy Tribunal from $12,000 to $50,000.
* Improvements to the enforceability of Tenancy Tribunal orders.