Sweeping changes to NSW Residential Tenancy Laws set to take effect in March 2020

Friday 20 Dec 2019

The NSW Office of Fair Trading has announced sweeping changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment (Review) Act 2018 [NSW] and the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2019 [NSW].

These changes will come into effect on 23 March 2020.

“Significant changes are coming which will affect property managers, landlords and tenants,” said Leanne Pilkington, REINSW President.

Some of the reforms include:

  • Rent increases must be limited to once per year during a periodic agreement when the fixed term has passed.
  • Landlords must obtain tenants’ prior written consent to publish photographs or video recordings of premises, including property interiors for advertising purposes which may show tenants’ possessions.
  • Tenants may make minor alterations, fixtures, additions and renovations with the landlord’s consent, but the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold consent if the alteration, fixture or addition is one from a prescribed list in the 2019 Regulation.
  • Repairs and replacements of hardwired smoke alarms must be carried out by an authorised electrician
  • Non-payment of water usage or utility charges may now result in tenancy termination (in addition to non-payment of rent)
  • Tenants have the right to break their lease if it is signed after 23 March 2020. Tenants will pay a break fee of:
    • 4 weeks rent if less than 25% of the fixed term has expired
    • 3 weeks rent if 25% or more but less than 50% of the fixed term has expired
    • 2 weeks rent if 50% or more but less than 75% of the fixed term has expired
    • 1 week’s rent if 75% or more of the fixed term has expired

  • Victims of domestic violence will be able to terminate their tenancy without penalty

- REINSW