Warning all landlords - compliance non-negotiable

Wednesday 3 May 2017

No longer will landlords and property management companies be able to get away with poor landlord behaviour.

by Jack Vale

That is the message from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The warning shots follow an audit of five separate property management companies across the country found varying levels of compliance in some of the most basic requirements of being a landlord, namely insulation and smoke alarms. Landlords and property managers are now being put on notice that it is imperative that they ensure compliance is a number one priority, or face the consequences.

It has been well publicised that changes to legislation surrounding smoke alarms and insulation must be complied to. Smoke alarms must be within three metres of bedroom doors and insulation must be in all rental properties where applicable by 1st July 2019.

However, what many private landlords are unaware of is that despite the deadline for insulation being a little over two years away, it is still required as per the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) that all tenancy agreements include the type of insulation in the property, where the insulation is and the ‘R’ rating of this insulation.

Failure to do so is treated as an unlawful act under section 13(a) of the RTA and as such landlords can face up to a $500 fine for an incomplete tenancy agreement.

Team manager Steve Watson of MBIE’s compliance and tenancy team said, “This action should serve as a reminder that we take breaches of residential tenancy law seriously, and are working to crack down on poor landlord behaviour across New Zealand.”

The team, who were founded in 2016 have the power to prosecute landlords who persistently and seriously breach basing housing standards.

The warning shots fired stand now as a reminder to landlords that they are running a business. As such, they have certain responsibilities and obligations to their tenants to provide a service.

Landlords can no longer assume that tenants are happy to sit back and tolerate poor living condition and to do so may encourage tenancy services to investigate.

With the increasing number of regulations in the industry, property managers and landlords alike would do well to maintain continually up to date and aware of these changes.

However, the New Zealand Property Investor Federation (NZPIF) believes that most landlords are not bad and take their obligations seriously.

NZPIF data shows that 83% of their members’ properties are fully insulated to the RTA’s standards, two years ahead of the 2019 deadline.

Despite this, Tommy’s Property Management would encourage anyone invested in residential property to be aware of their current insulation, and whether this is up to the standards.

The imposed standards in the zone for Wellington require an ‘R’ rating of 2.9 in the ceiling and 1.3 underfloor. Tenancy services declare “any new insulation installed into rented home (income related or not) from this date (July 1, 2016) must meet or exceed the higher requirements for newly installed insulation.”

In general, all areas of ceiling insulation should have a thickness greater than 70mm above all habitable spaces.

Homes built after 1978 with insulation which met thermal requirements at the time of construction are still likely to comply with regulation, providing that the insulation is still in good condition.

Checking that your home is up to the outlined standards should be a number one priority for landlords and should be checked in your annual property checks. If you require an insulation check in your property or are unsure on the regulations, please do not hesitate to contact Tommy’s Property Management today.

Jack Vale is Business Development Manager with Tommy’s Real Estate’s Property Management Division in Wellington

Comments from our readers

On 2 June 2017 at 11:18 am Bolitho said:
Very well said. The sooner ALL property managers start acting responsibly the quicker our reputation and businesses grow. Tim Monck-Mason Business Development Manager Bolitho Property Management Nelson

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