The writing’s on the wall: put insulation down or pay up

Landlords now have only one year to comply with new insulation requirements for rented properties, and face a fine of up to $4000 for not doing so.

The requirement to insulate ceiling and underfloor spaces of a rented property by the 1st of July 2019 is compulsory under the Residential Tenancies Act. Confusion over legislation Insulation Association of New Zealand (IAONZ) executive officer Richard Arkinstall says there is confusion about how the Residential Tenancies Act and the new Healthy Homes Guarantee Act, passed in December last year, work together.

Many landlords wrongly think they can hold off complying with the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) insulation regulations and wait for more regulations under the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act.

That is wrong. Landlords must still insulate the ceilings and underfloor of their rental homes by 1 July 2019 under the RTA.

“There is no escaping that deadline (1 July 2019) for landlords,” Richard says.

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act aims to improve the standards of New Zealand homes. The new standards will involve heating, ventilation, draught stopping, drainage and moisture, as well as insulation.

It may require more insulation than what is now required under the RTA, Richard says.

The new healthy home standards will be worked out over the next year, building on what is already required. The government has said it will consult widely to create the new minimum standards.

Stretching industry capacity Surveys being carried out by IAONZ strongly suggest that 100–120,000 residential properties still require ceilings and under floors to be insulated.

“The big concern from the association’s point of view is simply the capacity of the industry to meet the demand of landlords to get homes insulated,” Richard says.

Members of IAONZ represent about 80 percent of New Zealand’s manufacturers and installers of insulation. They can insulate about 50-60,000 properties a year.

IAONZ estimate, it has assessed about 120,000 rental properties in the past two years, however for those properties that require insulation to meet the RTA guidelines, the majority of landlords have been holding off. Some landlords might have done the insulation themselves, but DIY may not cut it.

“It’s not enough to say the ceiling and underfloor are insulated. The insulation must meet a certain standard, be installed correctly to NZS 4246 and meet fire safety and other regulations,” Richard says.

Most landlords do not realise that if they are fined $4000 for not complying with the insulation requirements of RTA, the $4000 will go to the tenants for the hardship of living in a non-insulted house.

“It’s a very unknown part of the Residential Tenancies Act. Landlords will get a real fright,” Richard says.

Funding to help landlords?

The government is looking at widening funding for insulation of properties through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), Richard says.

That could be done by widening the definition of low socio-economic areas eligible for insulation subsidies.

News on that is likely later this year, he says, and it might provide some landlords with access to funding for insulation.

Concern about cash cowboys Another concern is that a lot of “cash cowboys” will set themselves up as insulation installers to make quick bucks as the demand for insulation and installation climbs with the 1 July deadline looming.

There’s been a lot of interest in the past few months in joining the association. Richard says the association prefers new members to have at least a year’s experience (preferably two), and they must pass the association’s four-stage installation training course to meet the New Zealand standard for installing insulation in residential buildings — NZS 4246.

What are the benefits of IAONZ membership?

  • Being part of a progressive organisation focussed on ensuring that quality insulation products are correctly installed throughout NZ
  • Recognition of being an association member and the credibility it brings
  • Installation training course upskills members’ employees
  • IAONZ website listing including media campaigns
  • Technical help and advice including with legislative requirements
  • Newsletters keeping you up to date with industry issues
  • Regional meetings connecting members.

What insulation is required in rental properties by 1 July 2019?

  • Ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes from 1 July 2019
  • A landlord who fails to comply is breaking the law and may be liable for a fine of up to $4000
  • Landlords may be eligible for help from their local council. A number of councils allow homeowners to add the cost of insulation to their rates and pay it back over about nine years
  • Landlords must make all reasonable efforts to find out what insulation is in their rental property
  • This includes physically looking, engaging a professional to do an assessment, or checking the council building file
  • If you engage a professional to assess the insulation, ask for written information to support the insulation statement. They can also advise and quote to bring insulation to required standards
  • Exceptions are few. In general, a rental property is exempt if it is not physically possible to gain access to insulate or would require major renovations to do so.

 

Source: Tenancy Services.

www.tenancy.govt.nz

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