Now that we have settled into the new residential tenancy amendments that came into effect last year, it is time to turn our minds to the next round to take effect from 1st September 2023. From this date the minimum housing standards will apply for all for new tenancies. This will include tenancy agreements which are being renewed after this date (even if the existing tenants are staying). Minimum housing standards are all about ensuring that the property is safe, secure and functional.
In a very brief summary, the minimum housing standards require that the rental properties must:
- be weatherproof and structurally sound;
- be in good repair and so that fixtures and fittings are not likely to cause injury through normal use;
- have functioning locks or latches on all external doors and windows (this means windows and doors that can be reached without a ladder);
- be free from vermin, damp and mould;
- Include curtains/ window coverings to provide privacy where it would be reasonably expected (i.e. bedrooms and bathrooms);
- have adequate plumbing and drainage;
- be connected to hot and cold water;
- have flushable toilets connected to a waste disposal system;
- have a functioning cook-top (if there is a kitchen);
- include the necessary fixtures for a functional laundry (i.e. tap fixtures and plumbing). This does not require the laundry to have a washing machine or other white goods).
We suggest to our clients that they should bear these standards in mind when conducting inspections over the next 6 months to ensure that they have sufficient time to work with their landlords and undertake any works necessary so that all properties comply with the prescribed minimum housing standards.
The obligation to ensure that the property complies with the minimum housing standards arises at the start of the tenancy and continues while the tenancy continues. If a landlord fails to comply with any prescribed minimum housing standards it will raise the possibility of being liable for breach of the tenancy agreement. Alternatively, the tenant can apply to the tribunal, for an order that the landlord remedy the property.
As each factual situation is different, please take our comments as general guidance and contact Mahoneys to obtain timely and practical legal advice in relation to any residential tenancy questions that you may have.