Insulation is a hot topic in New Zealand right now. The question is, could your agency be held accountable if your landlords fail to comply?
In 2016, legislation was passed that stated every rental property in New Zealand would have to be insulated, where practicable to do so by July 1 2019. That date is now well and truly behind us. With an estimated 10 –15% of rental dwellings in New Zealand still non-compliant with the insulation requirements as at 1 July, there are estimated to be tens of thousands of non-compliant properties across the country. Could your agency be managing some of those?
To recap on the insulation requirements…
The minimum level of ceiling and underfloor insulation must either:
- Meet the 2008 Building Code, or
- Have a minimum thickness of 120mm and be in reasonable condition with no dampness, damage or displacement (for existing ceiling insulation).
The new regulations also specify where insulation exemptions applies and this is one of many grey areas landlords and property managers have to contend with. As a property manager you are expected to be many things, but a building and safety inspector is not one of them.
What if landlords fail to comply?
Any landlord with a dwelling that is not insulated could face $4,000 exemplary damages through the Tenancy Tribunal and be issued a work order to ensure that the work is done. Ignore that and they could face an extra $3,000 in exemplary damages.
Establishment of the TCIT to enforce compliance
The Tenancy Compliance Investigation Team (TCIT) was established in August 2016 to monitor and enforce compliance with the Residential Tenancies Act. Its establishment followed changes to the Act, including the Healthy Homes Standards.
The team investigates a number of things, including:
- If a landlord has committed a serious or ongoing breach of the Act
- If the condition of a property is deemed to pose a significant risk to tenant health and safety
Could a property management agency be held accountable?
As well as investigating alleged breaches, the TCIT can randomly audit landlords and property managers. Last year, the TCIT warned property managers that they could be held accountable if the landlords they represented did not get their properties insulated. According to the TCIT, property management companies would be held liable for managing uninsulated properties for amounts that could total $4000 in some cases.
What can you do to protect your landlords, tenants and yourselves?
PropertySafe’s new Healthy Home Evaluation Report offers you a simple, effective and fully customisable way to process and manage the Healthy Homes Standards (HSS) requirements through Maintenance Manager, protecting you, your landlords and tenants.
Conducted by licensed inspectors, the assessment identifies all non-compliance issues specific to the Healthy Homes Standards (not just the insulation standards), sorts out any grey areas and recommends the actions needed to rectify any issues found in order to become compliant. While on the premises, the inspectors also conduct a high risk safety inspection, highlighting any other obvious life threatening safety hazards and recommended actions to rectify those hazards. Click here to view a sample report.
To learn more call PropertySafe on 029 239 1134 or 09 887 3299.