Welcome to our 2nd instalment of our 15 part series on the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

Today we’re discussing the new minimum standards for a property to be fit for habitation.

Under section 52 (1) of the old #residentialtenanciesact 2010 (NSW), a landlord needed to ensure that the premises was in a reasonable state of cleanliness and fit for habitation by the tenant.

However, the phrase fit for habitation had not been defined, leaving it open to interpretation.

For example, the landlord may think it was quite alright that there was only a single power point in the lounge room, but the tenant complains that it’s simply not adequate to run the tv, the stereo, the modem, the lamp and various other appliances and devices.

Property managers were left in the position of having to negotiate what the appropriate standard is in that particular circumstance and try and broker a resolution. To clarify the meaning of fit for habitation and set clearer expectations for tenants, landlords and property managers, seven minimum standards have now been introduced.

The standards, that are set out in the new section 52 (1a) of the Residential Tenancies Act require that all premises must, as a minimum:

*be structurally sound,
*have adequate natural or artificial lighting in each room except for storage rooms or garages,
*have adequate ventilation, be supplied with electricity or gas, and

  • have enough electricity or gas sockets for lighting, heating and other appliances,
    *have adequate plumbing and drainage,
    *have a water connection that can supply hot and cold water for drinking, washing and cleaning,
    *have bathroom facilities, including toilet and washing facilities that allow users privacy.

To clarify the requirement of being structurally sound new section 52 (1b) sets out that floors, ceilings, walls, supporting structures, doors, windows, roof, stairs, balcony, railings must
*be in a reasonable state of repair,
*not be subject to significant dampness,
*not allow water penetration into the premises and
*not be liable to collapse because they are rotten or otherwise defective.

Now landlords need to ensure their properties make these minimum standards in order to be fit for habitation. Rental properties are already required to be fit for habitation and should already meet these basic standards.

The property could, however, have other issues that make may make it unfit for a tenant to live in, even if it does meet those minimum standards.

Before the property is rented out, the landlord or property manager should take such steps, such as making repairs, to make sure the property is fit to live in.

Finally, these standards must be maintained throughout the tenancy by making repairs as and when required.

If you’d like any further information about any of these new laws and how they apply to you, please feel free to be in touch with our office.