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2019 Tenancy Law Changes – Relevant to You

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2019 Tenancy Law Changes – Relevant to You

2019 Tenancy Law Changes – Relevant to You

There are several tenancy law changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (“the Act”) and Residential (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019 that will affect your tenancy agreement and how you (as landlord) insure your property. The Act is the law that outlines your obligations as landlord. It is important that you are aware of these changes to ensure you maintain lawful practices as a landlord and that you adequately protect your property.

The most significant changes that have come into action are as follows:

Tenant liability for damage

Tenants who damage a property due to careless behaviour will be liable for the cost of damage up to a maximum of 4 weeks’ rent or your insurance excess, whichever is lower. If tenants are on income-related rents they will be liable up to 4 weeks of market rent or your insurance excess, whichever is lower. If insurance money is irrecoverable because of an act of the tenant or a person they are responsible for, 4 weeks of rent is payable.

It is unlawful for a landlord to demand, request or accept from a tenant payment or carrying out of works that exceeds the value detailed above.

A tenant will have no liability, except as detailed above, to meet the cost of making good any damage or destruction to premises, to indemnify a landlord against the cost of making good destruction or damage, to pay damages or to carry out any work to make good any destruction or damages.

It will be up to you, as landlord, to prove the damage is not fair wear and tear, it was a result of the tenant’s actions and, if applicable, insurance moneys are irrevocable. It will be up to the tenant to prove damage or destruction was not intention or due to a careless act or omission.


You must include the following information in a statement for tenancy agreements:

  • If the premises are insured; the statement must set out for each policy relevant to tenant’s liability for destruction or damage to the premises that amount of excess (if any) to that liability and state that a copy of the insurance policy is available on request.
  • If the premises is not insured; the statement set out that the premises is not insured.

For current tenants, they can ask you for insurance information (including if the premises are insured, the excess and policy details), which you must then provide to them in writing within a reasonable time. If any of your insurance information changes you must tell your tenants, in writing, within a reasonable amount of time.

Where this is not done you may be liable for a penalty of up to $500.00.

Healthy Home Standards


The obligations on a landlord, at the start of a tenancy, now include an onus that the premises is of a liveable standard. These standards are specified in the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Home Standards) Regulations 2019, which landlords need to comply with under the Act. As part of the Healthy Homes Standards there are minimum requirements for heating devices.

A rental property must have a qualifying heater in the living room or a heater that supplies heat directly to the living room. A qualifying heater is one installed as a fixture to the premises, has a heating capacity of 1.5 kW or more and has a thermostat.

The heater must meet the required heating capacity for the given living room. This is determined based on the area of the living room, the transmission heat loss of the room and the ventilation heat loss of the room.  A qualifying heater can include an electric heater (for a required heating capacity of up to 2.4kW) and a fixed heat pump. There are some limited exemptions that apply and there are different requirements for boarding houses.


Insulation requirements also come under the Healthy Home Standards. These standards impose that above the ceiling of and under the floor of each domestic living space there must be qualifying ceiling insulation. Unless there is a domestic living space immediately above (for ceilings) or below (for underfloor) the living space or clearances are reasonably required around an item that is installed in the ceiling or under the floor.

For ceiling insulation to be deemed qualifying varies depending on the zone of the property, installation standards being met, the insulation’s resistance to heat flow and condition. Qualifying underfloor insulation requires an insulation resistance to heat flow of at least 1.3, installation standards to have been met and the insulation is in a reasonable condition.

Also changes to:

  • Ventilation
  • Draught stopping
  • Moisture ingress and drainage

How these changes affect your individual tenancy agreements

These amendments create more onerous obligations on landlords. There are responsibilities on you to comply with health and safety requirements and ensure residential premises meet livable standards. These are changes to the law that you have to comply with, in addition to the obligations and requirements that you already have to abide by. The law changes in relation to tenant damage, insurance and what counts as a residential premises are already in effect. The changes relating to Healthy Home Standards require the Landlord to include a statement of current level of compliance and a statement of intent with all new, varied or renewed agreements from 1 July 2020 – from which date a property must be compliant within 90 days of any new, varied or renewed tenancies. All residential tenancies must be compliant by 1 July 2024.

If you wish to discuss further any of these tenancy law changes, how they affect you, your tenants and their tenancy agreements please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.


2019 Tenancy Law Changes – Relevant to You