Thorny insulation issue

Question from Chris updated on 23rd August 2019:

My tenant's contract ends on the 29th of June and we intend to sell the property. Indications are that my tenant will not leave willingly and I will have to appeal to the Tenancy Tribunal to evict her. The house has no underfloor insulation at present. If she is still in the house after the 1st of July, am I liable for any fines due to the lack of underfloor insulation?

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

From 1 July 2019, landlords who do not have insulation installed in the ceiling and under the floor, where it is practicable to install it, are committing an unlawful act and may be liable for exemplary damages of up to $4,000. A tenant who believes they are living in a rental property that does not comply with insulation requirements has options that include applying to the Tenancy Tribunal. The Tenancy Tribunal will consider and assess the appropriateness of a financial penalty for any established breached due to a lack of underfloor insulation, based on the individual circumstances of each case.

Where a tenant remains in occupation of the premises after the tenancy has terminated, or has been terminated, all the obligations of the tenant shall continue in force as if the tenancy were still subsisting until the tenant ceases to occupy the premises. It is an unlawful act if a tenant does not vacate the premises where a tenancy has been properly ended. Current renting law will apply if a tenant remains in the property after the termination date on the fixed term tenancy agreement.

The landlord has options that include applying to the Tenancy Tribunal for a possession order, which legally returns possession of the property to the landlord. It is recommended that you include relevant documentation to support your claim if you proceed with lodging an application to the Tenancy Tribunal for a possession order. The relevant documentation would include any written notice to terminate the tenancy and any correspondence where the tenant has indicated that they will not be leaving the premises by the end of the fixed term tenancy.

For more information on insulation requirements, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz. You can also subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters here

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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