Rural farm houses to comply

The clock is ticking for rural farmhouses to comply with new laws for providing insulation in rental homes

Insulation requirements

From 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory for all rental properties in New Zealand.

The regulations apply to all residential rental properties including farm dwellings that are rented or supplied to farm employees as part of their employment contract. Farm owners/landlords will need to include a separately signed insulation statement with their tenancy agreement that discloses the following:

  • Whether there is insulation
  • What type of insulation there is
  • What condition it is in

A landlord who does not make an insulation statement or who excludes, falsifies or misleads any information within that document is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $500.

Unless an exception applies, landlords who don’t have the required insulation installed in their rental properties by July 2019 will be in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. They may face paying a penalty of up to $4,000, which is usually paid to the tenant.

The exception to this requirement is where it is not reasonably practical to install the ceiling or underfloor insulation. This might be the case where it is not physically possible to access or would take a major renovation to do so. Examples of this could be concrete floors or skillion roofs where there is no ceiling to install insulation.

If insulation can be installed, with minor work involved, then the landlord is expected to do so. It is not enough for a landlord to claim that insulation is not reasonably practical.  Therefore it is recommended that if you have any concerns regarding the installation that you obtain advice from a professional installer or builder

What do landlords need to do?

  1. Assess your current insulation
  2. Check whether insulation can be installed
  3. Install or top up insulation as required
  4. Make sure your tenancy agreements include an insulation statement

Smoke alarms

You should be aware that smoke alarms are now compulsory in all rental homes.  This came into law on 1 July 2016.

New smoke alarms must be photoelectric and have a long battery life, or be hard-wired in.

Landlords are responsible for ensuring that all smoke alarms are working at the start of the tenancy and remain working throughout the tenancy.

Existing smoke alarms do not need to be replaced if they are still working and have not passed their expiry date. Once these are no longer working or have passed their expiry date, they must be replaced with the newer model smoke alarms.

It doesn’t all fall on landlords though with tenants required to replace batteries when needed and let the landlord know of any smoke alarm problems. Tenants must not damage, remove or disconnect smoke alarms.

Failure to meet these obligations can see a landlord fined up to $4,000 and a tenant fined up to $3,000.

If you would like more information on these requirements please go to www.tenancy.govt.nz