Landlords urged to act on insulation

Monday 24 December 2018

Warnings that landlords need to step up and ensure their rental properties meet insulation requirements are coming thick and fast as the year ends.

By Miriam Bell

The 2016 changes to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) mean that all rental properties must have ceiling and underfloor insulation, which meets the required standards, installed by 1 July 2019.

This requirement is given more urgency by the fact the Government’s new Healthy Homes minimum standards are expected to up the insulation stakes further.

Yet it seems that many landlords are simply not addressing the looming insulation requirements.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recently released a report showing the number of landlords insulating their rentals is not high enough to achieve full compliance by July.

While it suggests most landlords are aware of the changes, it shows that as of March 2018, an estimated 67% of private rental properties met the standard, an increase of just 7% since July 2016.

MBIE Housing and Tenancy Services Branch general manager Steve Watson says the July deadline is fast approaching and time is running out for landlords to make their rental properties compliant.

“Estimates suggest there are between 126,000 and 220,000 rental homes which still need to be properly fitted for insulation, and talks with industry tell us that this is more than what can be practicably carried out by qualified installers by the cut-off date.”

According to the Insulation Association of NZ, qualified insulation installers who belong to their organisation can insulate an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 properties each year. That means there is likely to be a shortfall.

Similar figures mean the NZ Property Investors Federation has been warning landlords that they need to get their insulation sorted for some time.

They estimate that more than 60,000 rental properties won’t be compliant by the end of June.

NZ Property Investor Federation executive officer Andrew King says many landlords who still need to insulate their rental properties now have limited options – and an increasingly pressing need to get the insulation done.

“NZPIF members who need to insulate their rental properties can get discounts at Bunnings, which has installers nationwide. We also have an arrangement with GForce We Install for our members.

“But there is nothing else round to help landlords with insulation as the Government’s insulation funding scheme doesn’t provide subsidies for landlords.”

This means that the NZPIF is urging landlords to act promptly to try and ensure they meet insulation requirements in time.

From 1 July 2019, MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team will be focusing on compliance and enforcement of insulation requirements.

If a landlord fails to comply with the regulations they will be committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000.

Watson says that landlords need to know they can’t afford to leave insulation until the last minute. "If they don’t book the work in now, they could miss out altogether, and that will cost them."

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