Landlord and Tenant Related: New Tenancy Laws

Etch Landlord and Tenacny update. NSW Fair Trading webinar on property reforms, recorded Tuesday 10 March 2020

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See full details: Depart of Fair Trading Website and on the Tenant Information Statement

At Etch Property Management it is important that we keep our Landlords and Tenants abreast of all developments in the legistlation. In the coming weeks we will be releasing further guidance in relation to the amendments to ensure that both teanants and landlords are kept well informed in regard to these new changes.

As such there have been several recent updates which are worth noting and we’ve chosen a handful which deserve to be highlighted below. You may need to be aware of the new residential tenancy requirements and know your responsibilities when dealing with a rented property in NSW. Visit NSW Fair Trading’s website for information on key changes to the residential tenancy laws.

New mandatory set break fees for fixed term agreements

Mandatory fees apply to all fixed-term agreements of three years or less, when a tenant ends the agreement early.

Breaking a fixed-term agreements signed from 23 March 2020

  • four weeks rent if less than 25 per cent of the agreement has expired
  • three weeks rent if 25 per cent or more but less than 50 per cent of the agreement has expired
  • two weeks rent if 50 per cent or more but less than 75 per cent of the agreement has expired
  • one week’s rent if 75 per cent or more of the agreement has expired.

Breaking a fixed-term agreement signed before 23 March 2020

  • six weeks rent if the tenant leaves in the first half of the fixed-term agreement, or
  • four weeks rent if the tenant leaves in the second half of the fixed-term agreement.

For more details visit: Department of Fair Trading, Break Fee Changes

New smoke alarm requirements

One of the key changes includes new obligations on landlords to ensure that smoke alarms installed in rented properties are working.

  • Landlords and agents must ensure smoke alarms are repaired or replaced (within 2 business days). This includes replacing a battery
  • Landlords or agents must:
    • check smoke alarms every year to ensure they are working
    • install or replace removable batteries every year (or for lithium batteries, in the period specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer)
    • replace smoke alarms within 10 years of manufacture, or earlier if specified by the smoke alarm manufacturer.
  • To inspect or assess the need for a smoke alarm repair or replacement, landlords or agents must give the tenant at least 2 business days’ notice.
  • To carry out a repair or replacement of a smoke alarm, landlords or agents must give the tenant at least 1-hours’ notice.

More information on the smoke alarm requirements, including new requirements for landlords and tenants, who can repair or replace a smoke alarm or change a battery, and requirements relating to properties in strata schemes is available on the NSW Fair Trading website.

Changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW)

Changes to the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) will commence on 10 April 2020. These changes will permit a by-law being made that may prohibit a lot being used for the purposes of a short-term rental accommodation arrangement if the lot is not the host’s principal place of residence. These changes are in response to issues which have arisen between landlords (and their tenants) versus other building inhabitants in the case of Airbnb-style short-term lets. The changes are set out in Schedule 2 to the Fair Trading Amendment (Short-term Rental Accommodation) Act 2018 (NSW).

Code of Conduct – Commencement Update

The short-term rental accommodation Code of Conduct was expected to commence as well, however, given the current COVID-19 situation, coupled with the recent bushfires, the accommodation sector has been significantly impacted so the Code is now expected to commence alongside the Register and the planning instruments in the second half of this year, with the exact date to be determined in time.

The real estate and property reforms introduce new rules of conduct which will apply to agents and assistant agents from 23 March 2020.

These new rules include:

  • rental and sales money must be separated and deposited into different trust accounts
  • rental monies received must be disbursed to the landlord at least monthly, unless special arrangements apply
  • potential conflicts of interest are more tightly governed, with a $60 limit on the value of gifts and benefits that could give rise to a conflict.

For further information on the rules of conduct see the recent law reforms page on the Fair Trading website.

COVID-19 Related

Below are some additional links to other COVID-19 related information that REINSW has sent out this week:

26 March – Tenancies impacted by COVID-19 Emergency Measures Legislation

26 March – Government restrictions on auctions and open homes

25 March – Media release: Tenant’s obligation to pay rent

25 March – Update on coronavirus measures

24 March – REINSW Coronavirus Toolkit for Members

Please make sure you check our COVID-19 webpage regularly for updates


The changes are significant and have been observed, implemented and tracked by your Etch Property Mangement team. If you need further clarification on any of the items or wish to discuss them further please contact your Etch Property Manager to organise a chat, or phone our office in Balgowlah Heights on (02) 9949 4511.