Residential Tenancies Amendments Act 2020

If you own a residential rental property you should be aware of the significant changes enacted last year, but here is a summary of the major changes and dates.

NOTE: – These are different to the Healthy Homes requirements that are covered under different legislation

Landlords and tenants need to understand the recent changes to tenancy law and how this will affect them.

All landlords, including boarding house landlords, must comply with various legal obligations as governed by the Residential Tenancies Act (the Act). Starting from August 2020, parts of the Act are being changed by the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill.

The changes are taking effect at three key dates:

Phase 1: 12 August 2020

Phase 2: 11 February 2021

Phase 3: By 11 August 2021

Phase 1: Law changes take effect 12 August 2020

Transitional and emergency housing exempt from the Act

From 12 August 2020, transitional and emergency housing will be exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act where the housing is:

  • funded (wholly or partly) by a government department, or
  • provided under the Special Needs Grants

This exemption is applicable for all people (new and existing clients) in transitional and emergency housing that meets the criteria above.

Providers of transitional and emergency housing will still be able to opt into parts of the RTA if they wish, by agreeing in writing with the client which parts will apply.

Rent can only be increased every 12 months

From 12 August 2020, rent increases are limited to once every 12 months. This is a change from once every 180 days (six months). Any rent increase notices given to tenants from 12 August 2020 must comply with the new 12-month rule. If a notice was given before 12 August 2020, it is still within the 180-day rule.

Phase 2: Law changes take effect 11 February 2021

Changes to multiple parts of tenancy law

From 11 February 2021, multiple changes to tenancy legislation will take effect. More details will be available closer to the time. The changes will cover:

Security of rental tenure

Landlords will not be able to end a periodic tenancy without cause by providing 90 days’ notice. New termination grounds will be available to landlords under a periodic tenancy and the required notice periods will change.

Changes for fixed-term tenancies

All fixed-term tenancy agreements will convert to periodic tenancies at the end of the fixed term unless the parties agree otherwise, the tenant gives a 28-day notice, or the landlord gives notice in accordance with the termination grounds for periodic tenancies.

Making minor changes

Tenants can ask to make changes to the property

and landlords must not decline if the change is minor. Landlords must respond to a tenant’s request to make a change within 21 days.

Prohibitions on rental bidding

Rental properties cannot be advertised without a rental price listed, and landlords cannot invite or encourage tenants to bid on the rental (pay more than the advertised rent amount).

Fibre broadband

Tenants can request to install fibre broadband, and landlords must agree if it can be installed at no cost to them, unless specific exemptions apply.

Privacy and access to justice

A suppression order can remove names and identifying details from published Tenancy Tribunal decisions if a party who has applied for a suppression order is wholly or substantially successful, or if this is in the interests of the parties and the public interest.

Assignment of tenancies

All requests to assign a tenancy must be considered. Landlords cannot decline unreasonably. If a residential tenancy agreement prohibits assignment, it is of no effect.

Landlord records

Not providing a tenancy agreement in writing will be an unlawful act and landlords will need to retain and provide new types of information.

Enforcement measures being strengthened The Regulator (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) will have new measures to take action against parties who are not meeting their obligations.

Changes to Tenancy Tribunal jurisdiction

The Tenancy Tribunal can hear cases and make awards up to $100,000. This is a change from $50,000.

Phase 3: Law changes take effect by 11 August 2021

Tenancies can be terminated if family violence or landlord assault has occurred

The below provisions must come into effect by 11 August 2021, but may come in earlier if the Government agrees (using an Order in Council):

Family violence: tenants experiencing family violence will be able to terminate a tenancy without financial penalty.

Physical assault: a landlord will be able to issue a 14-day notice to terminate the tenancy if the tenant has assaulted the landlord, the owner, a member of their family, or the landlord’s agent, and the Police have laid a charge against the tenant in respect of the assault.

More information

Reform of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (Ministry of Housing and Urban Development) Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 (New Zealand Legislation website)

Tenancy.govt.nz (MBIE/Tenancy Services have developed a factsheet that summarises the changes) Source: tenancy.govt.nz/law-changes

Xero Starter Plan update

Did you know Xero have recently made some big changes to their starter plan*?

No business is too small for this Xero Starter plan, whether you work alone or employ a whole team you can spend less time working in spreadsheets and more time working on projects.

What’s changed?

  • Unlimited bank reconciliations

Xero has removed the limit on bank reconciliations so you can keep a close eye on money coming in and going out

  • Send 20 invoices a month

Xero have increased the invoice limit to 20. That is roughly one invoice for each business day in a month

Xero’s Starter Plan has all the tools needed to keep track of your accounts no matter how small your business, including:

Online invoicing and quotes made easy

  • Send up to 20 personalised, professional invoices and quotes each month. Plus, set up automated invoice reminders and spend less time chasing payments.

Paying bills is painless

  • Enter five bills each month, see when upcoming payments are due, schedule payments and batch pay multiple suppliers in one go.

Simple bank reconciliation

  • Keep track of cash flow effortlessly with bank reconciliation in Xero. Save time on admin and get daily updates on your business.

Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc

  • Automate manual bookkeeping tasks like entering bills and receipts. Hubdoc extracts key information from each bill or receipt so it’s ready to copy into Xero.

If you are thinking about making the move to Xero, give us a call or email and we will be happy to assist 😊

Contact Ellie Harris for software support and training, she can tell you about all the options you have.

*Note that all other starter plan inclusions and limits remain the same.

Proper Crisps seed crackers

Any business owner will tell you that to succeed you need to keep moving your business forward; if you sell a service then you need to make sure you keep improving and delivering value for money, but if you make a product then you need to keep innovating because human nature means we get a little bored with the same old things and want to try new flavours.

One business that knows all about exploring new flavours is Proper Crisps, they started with a humble but perfectly formed salted potato crisp but have expanded the range of flavours they offer as well as using different vegetables to make their delicious crisps.

Mina Smith (Mrs Head Potato) dropped in to see me recently with some samples of a new product Proper Crisps have added to their range, and this time it isn’t a fried crisp.

Mina Smith (left) and Line Hart with freshly baked Crackerbread

Mina told me she met Line (pronounced Lena) Hart the owner of a business that handmakes Danish Crackerbread called knaekbrod, a traditional Danish seed cracker. “Line had won an award for her crackers and we tasted them and thought they were really good, so we introduced them to a Nelson City Fresh Choice to help her expand her market.”

After Covid-19 Line took a hard look at her business because her lease was coming up for renewal, “she was using a very labour intensive process that was just too hard for her to do if she was going to grow her business so she decided to close down.”

When Mina and Ned heard about the closure they contacted Line to find out why, because the cracker mix is hand rolled it is hard on the body and the lease renewal coincided with her running out of packaging so she decided she wanted to spend more time with her family.

In true entrepreneurial fashion Mina saw an opportunity to purchase the equipment used to make the crackers and add them to the Proper Crisps business. “What we saw in the product was that it is primarily just seeds, it’s a healthy, baked product made from seeds and oats with one flavour made using rye flour and one with regular flour.

“We had been wanting to add another snack line and had been exploring bars and other options. The downside of snack bars is that people want sweetness while these crackers are just healthy and tasty.”

Knaekbrod Avocado and Cheese

So Ned and Mina bought the production equipment from Line and set up a bakery facility in a building they had used for storage with the end result being a very tasty baked seed cracker that has had a proper makeover.

These crackers are perfect with cheese, loaded with things like tomatoes and cucumber for lunch or just to snack on any time of the day.

Published in the Nelson Mail 28.10.20

Wine Picks

Tiritiri  by Neudorf Pinot Rose 2020 – RRP $25 4.5 stars

Lovely citrus freshness enlivens the red fruits flavours (think cranberry, slightly under ripe strawberries) while the small amount that was fermented in old oak barrels (7%) adds roundness and complexity. A familiar streak of powdery minerality weaves its way through the palate.

The 2020 Tiritiri Rose by Neudorf is dry, yet juicy and packed with flavour making it a serious Pinot Noir Rose that deserves to be treated as a great food wine rather than a light quaffing wine – even though it is so dangerously easy to drink you can do that too!

Lake Chalice Plume Chardonnay 2016 RRP $49.99 4.5 stars

This is a powerful yet incredibly well balanced wine. Rich upfront with delightful lemon meringue citrus in the very long, juicy finish. A beautiful linear, chalky minerality with taut acidity provides the structure for the citrus dominant flavours to grab on to.

The age on the wine adds another layer of complexity, it is drinking beautifully right now but will also cellar nicely for another 5-8 years.

Xero – Saving Files in Xero

Did you know that Xero has an inbuilt online file management system? With Xero file library you can keep all your files (i.e. receipts, bills, images) organised in Xero.

The file library is located under your organisation name on the left-hand side of your blue taskbar.

Your Xero file library contains an Inbox and Contracts folder, and you can add any additional folders you need.

Using the Xero file library is easy, either:

  • upload files to the file library (left-hand option) or
  • email files directly to the Inbox folder (right-hand option, using your unique Xero inbox email address)

Whenever you see the attachment icon in Xero, you can then attach these files to individual transactions, items, and emails.

Follow this link for more information on how to use files in Xero: https://central.xero.com/s/topic/0TO1N0000017kqDWAQ/files-in-xero#business

Our In-House Software Training and Support Specialist

Ellie Harris – B.Com
Software Support & Training – ellie@savage.co.nz

Ellie Harris has been working for us for a number of years and as a recent B.Com graduate, with experience managing our tax system and working with clients on various compliance matters, she has now become our in-house software specialist.

Ellie has a number of Xero certifications, has experience working with MYOB products and has been developing her knowledge on all payroll matters – from employer payroll obligations to implementing payroll systems most suitable for your business.

Ellie can help you migrate from one accounting system to another, set up your new accounting software systems for you, advise on a range of solutions that will help you run your business accounting needs easily and efficiently and will be running training sessions for our clients in small groups so you get lots of one-on-one assistance with using your accounting software. She is also available for individual training in our offices or can even visit you at your workplace. Some of this is free to clients so if you need help or advice contact Ellie to arrange a time to meet with her.

Watch this space for upcoming free training courses.

Covid-19 update – 14.04.20

Well it continues to be an interesting time we are working our way through. The great news is that the Covid-19 lockdown appears to be having a positive effect by controlling the spread of this illness.

While all the signs are good we still have a long way to go, firstly to get through the immediate crisis and then a very long road to economic recovery. We are expecting some of the lockdown restrictions to be eased but not expecting them to be lifted totally for a few months yet.

Today’s Government Announcement re Level 3

The Government has announced general conditions for operating under Level 3 restrictions when they do drop the Covid Threat Level from Level 4 to Level 3.

It appears there will still be strict restrictions on who can open for business and how those businesses operate. The key point is the social distancing 2 meter ‘bubble’ must be retained. We’re uncertain how this will effect Savage & Savage and whether or not we are able to operate from our offices. We are expecting to not be able to operate from the office however we do want to get back as soon as we can and will be seeing if the detail in Level 3 lockdown rules allow us to. Watch this space.

Planning

With that in mind business owners need to start thinking about what their business is going to look like post Covid-19. Some of the things to consider are when will your business be able to be up and running again? Will your business clients still be in business? How will your general customer base have changed? What will your cash flow look like for the next two years? How many staff will you need? What is your tax liability for the next two years? And many other things.

There are many things to consider and every business owner is going to have to do some serious thinking and planning. We can help you with your cashflow forecasting for the next few years so we are happy to offer our clients an hour of time from either Anna or Libby, at no charge, to discuss what you need to think about when preparing a cashflow.  If you’d like us to prepare your cashflow for you we will give you an hours’ free time when preparing it.

Recent tax changes announced

The Government has announced some changes to various taxes and payments, in particular tax carry back changes (tax losses carried forward). When we get exact details about the implementation of these changes we will share those with you but in the meantime you will need to do some panning, both for your cashflow and future tax purposes.

So we can accurately estimate your future tax liabilities it’s important we have the most up-to-date information as possible so please don’t delay sending your annual accounts information to us. By having your tax position for 2020 established we can then look at forecasting 2021 for the loss carry back if you have one. The tax relief measures will be easier to use if books are up to date.

Attached is a factsheet from the Beehive – Supporting small and medium sized enterprises during the COVID-19 crisis. This is a summary of the latest support measures being rolled out by the government.

Annual Accounts

We operate on a first in – first out basis unless there are urgent business needs like refinancing business sale etc so the sooner you get your information to us the sooner we can get your annual accounts finished.

Tax payment relief

When it comes to IRD payment arrangements your tax position needs to be established first, this goes for all tax types. It’s better to get in contact with us to request an IRD payment arrangement rather than just not paying – even though IRD will be lenient and write off interest and penalties it is much better to have a formal arrangement in place.

Payment of our invoices

We understand these are difficult times financially for many businesses and we don’t want this to be a barrier to us doing work for you so if you would like to make an arrangement to pay your account with us over a period of time please contact Neil at neil@savage.co.nz . We want to make sure we help all of our clients as much as we can.

Please continue to think about your safety if you are out and about.

We’re working on how we will operate under Covid-19 Level 3 restrictions when they come into place, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Agreements for Sale & Purchase of Property

The Agreement for Sale and Purchase of Property that’s used for the vast majority of property transactions is the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand / Auckland District Law Society (REINZ/ADLS) Agreement for Sale and Purchase and the form is reviewed regularly to ensure it remains an effective agreement as times change. Changes take into account things like allowing for electronic (emailed) forms as well as forms sent by fax or posted and also various changes required as a result of law changes.

The latest update happened late last year and the current version of the agreement is now the 10th edition of the REINZ/ADLS Agreement for Sale and Purchase. (click this link for more detail)

The most significant change, and one that may catch buyers out, relates to using a finance clause to withdraw from a purchase offer. People who want to withdraw from a housing deal due to being declined finance now have to prove they are unable to get the money.

If a finance condition is inserted but money can’t be secured to settle the agreement the purchaser’s word was generally enough for them to pull out of a contract. But under the changes that took effect on 6th December 2019 purchasers must provide evidence, generally by providing a letter or email from the bank.

This is a significant change to the sale and purchase agreement with significant implications for prospective purchasers who rely on a finance clause as a ‘get out of jail’ card, if purchasers can’t provide evidence they were unable to obtain finance they could be forced to proceed with the purchase or face other legal action by the vendor.

In the older form you could specify a lender in a finance clause in the Sale & Purchase Agreement, this option has been removed in the new form. The new clause in the fine print in the REINZ/ADLS 10th edition form removes the reference to a particular lender. It now requires a purchaser to provide evidence, if required by the vendor, that they had taken reasonable steps to obtain finance on satisfactory terms.

Along similar lines to the changes to the Finance clause is the Building Inspection Report clause that many prospective buyers obtain, in the updated agreement if you cancel the agreement because of an unsatisfactory building inspection report you are required to share the report with the vendor. This removes another ‘get-out-of-jail’ option some people have used in the past.

Other changes include an optional toxicology report condition, a new process to resolve compensation if there are disputes between vendors and purchasers and fixtures and chattels have been removed and replaced with new definitions and warranties.

GST clauses have been revised, the time-frame for deposits being released has been clarified, references to fax machines are removed, tenancy documents must now be provided by the vendor on the settlement date and various other changes to language and formatting have been made.

It has always been essential buyers take legal advice before signing any sort of property sale and purchase agreement rather than relying on standard Further Clauses inserted by real estate sales people, this change makes it even more important.

The bottom line is to make sure you deal with a reputable Real Estate Agency so you are given good advice and don’t sign any agreement for the sale and purchase of real estate before you have taken legal advice.

Xero & MYOB updates

Xero now integrates with BP fuel card. If you have a BP fuel card you can set up the connection from the BP Customer Portal and when you get your statement from BP it will automatically create a draft bill in Xero. Pretty handy if you are allocating fuel costs and it will automatically match to the  bank feed.

Have you heard about Hubdoc? It’s a Xero connected app that:

  • Captures data – upload bills and receipts from any device
  • Automates data entry – key data is extracted from the uploaded document and synced to Xero as accurately coded transactions with the source doc attached
  • One-click reconciliation – the transaction is matched to the bank feed for a one click reconciliation
  • Your source documents can be easily to access from anywhere

MYOB has a new integration with Bunnings, if you have an account with Bunnings you can now get your invoices from Bunnings directly to MYOB, no more entering every bill!

 

Sari Hodgson Awarded FCA Status

Each year the Council of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand recognises outstanding achievement in the profession of accountancy by awarding Fellowships to its members.

Fellowships, are awarded to members who are nominated by their peers for outstanding career achievement or contribution to the profession.

The 2019 awards are to be formally announced in a few days but we are able to share some fantastic news with you – Sari Hodgson, Director of Savage & Savage Limited, has been made a Fellow of CA ANZ this year.

The founder of Savage & Savage Chartered Accountants, Mr Noel Savage, was himself an FCA and Sari says she is proud to follow in her father’s footsteps. “I am also delighted to be able to help our clients succeed in business as well as contributing to our community whenever I can.”

Sari is a Past President of the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce, was the Chair of the Bishop Suter Art Gallery Trust and guided the organisation through the process of changing from a private trust to a Council Controlled Organisation. Sari has been the Chair of the School of Business Advisory Committee at NMIT for more than fifteen years. She has also written several books aimed at helping small to medium businesses. She is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. She also supports many community organisations through Savage & Savage.

 

FELLOWSHIP CRITERIA
The member must have demonstrated excellence through:

1. Outstanding achievement in the profession of accountancy through his
or her career
And/or
2. Outstanding contribution to the profession of accountancy through
a. Service and participation with distinction to CA ANZ, ICAA or NZICA
or other organisations within the profession; and/or
b. Services to the community or business; and/or
c. Teaching, research and or writing within the field of accounting that
reflects positively on the profession.
The member may be nominated under criteria one, any part of criteria
two or a combination of these criteria.

Diving deep into Marlborough’s booming seafood industry

Think Marlborough, and you might immediately think “wine”. Boasting some of the best-known and oldest vineyards in the country, the viticulture industry looms large in the region. But dwell on the stats for a moment, and it becomes obvious just how important a part the seafood industry plays in Marlborough’s economic successes as well.

Blenheim-based Crombie Lockwood Group Broking Manager, David Wing, is keen to remind those beyond the region that, away from the picture postcard vineyards of the Wairau Valley, there is another globally recognised industry doing the hard yards in Marlborough and contributing in a big way to New Zealand’s economy: aquaculture.

“It sometimes gets lost amidst the good news stories about our wine production, but the history of, current successes and future potential for aquaculture in Marlborough really are of deep significance to the country as a whole,” says David.

“Marlborough aquaculture is a major contributor to both the wider national seafood industry and New Zealand’s GDP. Our local wild capture and aquiculture producers account for around 60 percent of the seafood industry’s contribution to the national GDP. And seafood as a stand-alone category accounts for 11 percent of New Zealand’s GDP.

“Where mussels and salmon are concerned, Marlborough now has the highest marine farming output of any region in the country.”

The numbers are certainly impressive. Taken together, marine farming, wild capture and processing jobs account for 3.7 percent of Marlborough’s total labour force. The combined industry accounts for approximately six percent of Marlborough’s regional GDP.

The headline acts are undoubtably mussel and salmon farming. Mussels are New Zealand’s largest marine farming product by volume and value; of the annual tonnage produced, Marlborough’s output has accounted for between 60 and 70 percent of total ‘greenweight’ tonnage in recent years.

Not far behind mussels in the production and export stakes sits salmon. While Atlantic salmon is the predominant product on the world stage, New Zealand’s King salmon is free from the sea lice that has challenged this species in foreign waters, meaning that New Zealand is the dominant King salmon supplier internationally. And, as a rarer species on the global stage, king salmon farmed in New Zealand commands a higher price-per-ton than its Atlantic counterpart.

Marlborough accounts for the lion’s share of New Zealand farmed salmon, with operations on Stewart Island, in Akaroa Harbour in Canterbury, and in the Central Otago freshwater hydro-canals near Lake Ohau accounting for the remainder of national production.

The marine service industry – boat building, surveying and repair, equipment servicing and retail – is also a sub-economy in itself, helping to keep both local marine operators and Marlborough’s economy buoyant.

For Crombie Lockwood, involvement at every step of the way is a given. David says his team offers specialist underwriting services for fishing boat operators, along with insuring both farmed produce and wild capture seafood from the water to the processing plant, and even when in transit as fresh or frozen goods. Factory infrastructure and office space also need comprehensive coverage.

Vessels range in sizes, but all represent major investments to the many operators in the region.

“The future looks positive for the seafood industry in Marlborough, as internationally aquiculture is very much a growth sector,” continues David.

“Demand currently outstrips supply for mussels, salmon and other seafood stocks, which means high prices in most categories. Aquaculture New Zealand’s latest export stats [for the 12 months to May 2019] show that total mussel exports were up five percent on the previous period, amounting to over $300m in export revenue.”

Risks? David says that, while warmer water temperatures in recent years have contributed to higher fish mortality rates in some bays of the Marlborough Sounds, fish husbandry has begun to adapt to a changing climate; lowering stock density which in turn is helping reduce mortality rates and improve the quality of fish.

The bigger risk to the industry lies in the future consenting process and what knock-on effects limitations on new consents will have for the aquaculture industry.

Currently around two percent of the Marlborough Sounds is consented for marine farming (approximately 3000 hectares in a total of 150,000 hectares). After rapid expansion in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the total area farmed – primarily in Pelorus Sound, Admiralty Bay and at Port Underwood – has remained relatively unchanged in recent years after a moratorium was applied to new marine farms in the Sounds in 1996.

“The big risk for the local industry is that an estimated 56 percent of marine farms in Marlborough have consents that either expire or come due for renewal by 2025,” says David.

“The consenting process has been very carefully managed in recent times and, it’s fair to say, the process and operational guidelines aren’t getting any easier for operators. Mussel farms have their critics regardless of how much money they bring into the region.

“Possible changes of status for marine farming under legislation have increased uncertainty around how financially viable some operations will be in the future.”

Changes in the way the Sounds are zoned for industry could potentially cost aquaculture millions in future decades. Fewer farms or less tonnage of product being exported will of course have a direct impact on household wages and the overall economy in the region.

“The industry will carry on. But a lot of people are waiting to see what happens,” David concludes.

“It’s an industry set up for volume production. But it’s also a very well-managed industry, with some talented, globally recognised local operators at the heart of it. The wine industry remains vital to Marlborough’s successes, but I believe aquaculture is just as much the lifeblood of our community as well.”