Landlords given four years to insulate rental properties under proposed new residential tenancy laws

Every rental property in New Zealand must be insulated by July 2019, and have smoke alarms fitted by July 2016, under proposed new residential tenancy laws.

Housing Minister Nick Smith announced the plans, which include the following:

  • All rental properties must be insulated by 1 July 2019. Exemptions apply to properties where it is physically impractical to retrofit insulation
  • Smoke alarms must be installed in all rentals from July 2016. Tenants will be responsible for replacing batteries and notifying landlords of defects
  • New powers to prosecute landlords for breaking tenancy regulations, particularly where there is risk to the health and safety of tenants
  • Tenants will be able to take concerns to the Tenancy Tribunal without fear of retaliatory evictions.

Retrofitted ceiling and underfloor insulation

Under proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, landlords will need to make sure their rental properties have ceiling and underfloor insulation that meets the new standard.

The new requirements will apply from July 2016 for government-subsidised social housing, and from July 2019 for all other rental properties, including boarding houses.

Compulsory smoke alarms by July 2016

The regulations will make landlords responsible for installing operational smoke alarms, with tenants responsible for replacing batteries and notifying landlords when there is a defect. This will come into effect from 1 July 2016.

The proposed standards require a minimum of one working smoke alarm in a hall or similar area, within 3m of each bedroom door.

Insulation grants

Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes projects provide free ceiling and underfloor insulation for low-income households that are at high risk from illnesses linked to cold, damp housing. Funding for this programme is only guaranteed until June 2016.

Find out more and see if you're eligible on the EECA Energywise website

New powers to investigate and prosecute

Housing Minister Nick Smith said, "The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have new powers to investigate and prosecute landlords for breaking tenancy laws as part of these reforms, particularly where there is risk to the health and safety of tenants."

The new standards are part of the Government's plan to ensure all tenants can live in safer, warmer and healthier homes. Insulated homes are easier to heat, and smoke alarms are proven to reduce the risk of death from fires by up to 50 percent.

New 10-day process will enable landlords to take control of abandoned properties faster

The regulations will also include a new 10-day process to enable landlords to 're-tenant' abandoned rental properties, where the tenant has no intention of returning. The current process can take up to six weeks, and often leaves landlords significantly out of pocket.

What happens next?

The Bill will be introduced to Parliament later in 2015.

More information for landlords

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