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Changes to NSW Residential Tenancies Act

The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 has been replaced by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

The former Act was unclear as to whether schools were exempt from having residential tenancy agreements in place for their residential properties. The new Act is clearer in its application to schools and only provides a very limited exemption in the Residential Tenancies Regulation 2010.

The Regulation requires the school’s residential premises, if they are to be exempt from the Act, to be used principally as a “residential college or hall of residence for students of an educational institution”. Whilst school boarding houses and dormitories are covered, self-contained dwellings appear not to be covered by the exemption as they cannot be properly characterised as a “residential college” or a “hall of residence”. This means that houses and apartments that a school owns and rents to others are not exempt from the Act’s operation.

The Act requires the owners of non-exempt residential premises to enter into written residential tenancy agreements in the form set out in the Act. There are specified notice periods for ending a fixed term agreement and a non-fixed term agreement, as well as other provisions that dictate the terms of the residential tenancy agreement.

Therefore, schools which let property to their teachers must have a written residential tenancy agreement signed by both parties and must comply with the Act in relation to commencement, operation and termination of the residential tenancy.

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