Minimum standards for insulation and heating a step closer

Thursday 27 July 2017

National claims Labour's Healthy Homes Bill would push back the deadline for property investors to insulate their rentals.

By Miriam Bell

Labour Party leader Andrew Little’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill  scraped through the vote with 60 votes to 59 to continue its progress towards becoming law.

However, with Parliament due to be dissolved by August 22 and just one more members’ day set down before then, the Bill is unlikely to progress any further before September’s election.

That means its future progress will be dependent on the next Parliament.

The Bill, which is opposed by the government, aims to establish minimum standards for insulation, heating, ventilation and drainage in all rental properties.

Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith said the Bill would delay the government’s current requirements for landlords to insulate their rental homes by 2019 by three years.

“There is no debate that insulation makes our homes healthier.

“But clause 2 of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill has the requirement for landlords to comply with insulation standards come into force five years after the Act receives Royal Assent.”

According to Smith, there are already legal requirements for dwellings to be heated, ventilated, properly drained and free of draughts.

This means the only new issue in the Bill is the requirement for landlords to maintain their property at a minimum indoor temperature – which is impractical, he said.

“It is reasonable to require a landlord to provide appropriate heating but not to hold a landlord to account for the temperature of a home.

“This will depend on whether the heating is used, whether windows and doors are closed and whether drapes are pulled.”

Smith said the biggest issue in further improving the standard of rentals is enforcement, but there is good evidence that the standard of New Zealand housing is improving.

“The latest five-yearly BRANZ survey showed the proportion of well and reasonably maintained rental properties increased from 56% to 68% from 2010 to 2015.”

Labour, the Greens, NZ First, the Maori Party and United Future supported the Bill, while National and ACT opposed it.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said he supported the Bill because it is a basic good to have a warm and safe place to call home.

"We can all agree that it is a noble idea to seek better housing standards, but the method by which we do this is extremely important to make sure that with rising standards we avoid rising costs.”

He was disappointed that the Select Committee hearings on the Bill had not yielded anything further on whether costs to renters would increase as landlords pass on any costs resulting from the Bill.

"I am calling on Parliament to continue to work to provide a solution that will raise standards of our housing without imposing unnecessary burdens on landlords.”

Read more:

Healthy homes debate fires up 

Rental insulation requirements are now law 

Comments from our readers

On 30 July 2017 at 9:20 pm Alan W said:
The issue of flooring insulation is particularly interesting due to its apparent lack of clarity. As I understand it, if the R value of the floor is R0.9 or more, it complies and no further insulation is required. If it is less than this, it must be insulated to R1.9. What I cannot find any information on is where this insulation must be installed. So if I have a timber floor with 10mm underlay and a 3kg/sqm carpet on top, that gives an R value of approximately 0.4+0.8+0.8 = R1.6 (using conservative R values). However, if underfloor insulation only is considered, there is zero, unless, of course, I install the carpet and underlay beneath the floor, in which case it is both compliant and ridiculous. I have contacted NZPIF and MBIE with no reply to my questions. I have also written to my local MP (on the basis that as he assisted in passing the law, he certainly must understand it) but again, so far, no reply except to say, after a month, that they've been busy and will get back to me 'soon'. Any thoughts on this anyone? Alan

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