How recent changes to residential tenancy laws may affect you - Tenants bulletin 13

This publication is for: 

16 December 2019

New Residential tenancy laws

In this bulletin we share an overview of recent changes to residential tenancy laws and how they affect you.

Affixing furniture

Whilst Consumer Protection has actively encouraged lessors and agents to permit tenants to affix furniture to prevent it toppling onto children, it was not a legal requirement until now.

From 2 December 2019 changes to tenancy laws allow tenants to apply to a lessor/agent for permission to affix furniture in order to ensure the safety of a child or person with a disability. That person is not required to reside with you. You may be a grandparent seeking to secure the furniture in your rented premises to keep visiting grandchildren safe. A flat screen television is considered to be an item of furniture.

To make your application to the lessor/agent you must use the approved form and if the lessor/agent has not responded within 14 days they are taken to have consented.

A lessor/agent can only refuse your request if:

  • affixing the item to the wall would disturb material containing asbestos; or
  • the premises is entered in the Register of Heritage Places; or
  • the premises is situated in a strata scheme with by-laws prohibiting the affixing of the item to the wall of the premises.

You must notify the lessor/agent in writing of any damage caused by affixing and removing furniture, and are responsible to repair it. You must remove the items from the wall at the end of the tenancy and restore the wall to its original condition or pay the lessor/agent reasonable costs for the repair unless you have an agreement in writing that this is not required.

Read our Furniture stability factsheet and webpage for complete details.

Utilities payments

From 1 January 2020 the laws clarify the responsibility for utilities charges when the service is connected in the name of the lessor or a strata company. If you have not connected the service in your name you are not responsible for any charges other than consumption if the service is separately metered. If not separately metered, then you are only responsible to pay the consumption charge if the calculation of the charge is included in the lease agreement.

Further, the lessor/agent must provide you with a detailed written notice of the charge, including the metre readings and the charge per metred unit within 30 days of receiving the water, gas or electricity bill from the provider.

The charges can include the GST component of the consumption amount.

The Paying rates and utilities page will be updated on 2 January 2020.

Damage to common areas

Standard tenancy agreements require tenants to not intentionally or negligently cause damage to the residential premises.

From 1 January 2020 tenants of strata properties are responsible for damage to common areas and chattels in common areas. This also applies if you live in a Department of Communities (Housing) property.

What are chattels? Chattels are items that can be moved and are not considered to be part of the building, for example, clothes washer or dryer, rugs, chairs, tables, sofas and pot plants.

A residential tenancy agreement may be now terminated by the court where a tenant of a property has intentionally or recklessly caused or permitted serious damage to a common area or chattels in the common area of a premises (including a strata premises).

Visit our Serious damange or injury - rental disputes page for more information.

Need more information? Were here to help!

Contact Consumer Protection by phone on 1300 304 054 or by email.

Consumer Protection
Last updated 17 Dec 2019

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