Insulation, smoke alarms mandatory for rentals



180,000 homes to be insulated, Government estimates rent rise of $3.20 per week

Tenancy law changes announced last week mean landlords will now be required to insulate rental properties and ensure they have smoke alarms fitted over the next four years.
The insulation retrofitting is expected to cost $600 million, with benefits of $2.10 for each dollar of this cost, the Government says, while the smoke alarms are expected to cost $7 million and provide benefits of $15.10 per dollar of cost.
Officials estimate the flow-on effect on rents for a property requiring ceiling and underfloor insulation and a new smoke alarm to be $3.20 per week.
The government says these reforms will require 180,000 homes to be insulated and the 120,000 homes currently without smoke alarms to have them installed.
“This pragmatic package of tenancy law changes will make homes warmer, drier and safer for hundreds of thousands of New Zealand families without imposing excessive bureaucracy or cost,” Dr Smith says.
“The new law will require retrofitting of ceiling and underfloor insulation in rental homes over the next four years.
The requirement applies from July 1 2016 for social housing that is heavily subsidised by Government, and from July 1 2019 for other rental housing, including boarding houses.
There will be exemptions, such as where it is physically impractical to retrofit insulation due to limited space underfloor or inaccessible raked ceilings.
“There will also be a new requirement from July 1, 2016 for all landlords to state in tenancy agreements the level of ceiling, underfloor and wall insulation to help better inform tenants.
“Smoke alarms will also be required in all tenanted properties from 1 July 2016.
“Regulations will make landlords responsible for ensuring an operational smoke alarm is in place, and tenants responsible for replacing batteries or notifying landlords of defects.
“Long life (10-year) photoelectric alarms will be required where there is no existing alarm or when replacing an existing alarm.”
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 changes are designed to ensure tenants can take concerns to the Tenancy Tribunal without fear of being evicted for doing so, Dr Smith said.
“There will be a new ten-day process introduced to enable retenanting of properties where a tenant abandons a property with no intention of returning,” he added.
“The current process can take up to six weeks leaving a house empty and the landlord out of pocket.”

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