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Insulate your investment

Landlords have less than a year left to insulate rental properties before new penalties come into force. Here are some tips on how to comply with the new legislation.

When: 1 July 2019

What: Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act mean landlords must fit insulation in the ceilings and under the floors of their rental properties. Both new and existing insulation must meet certain standards. There will be a penalty of up to $4,000 for non-compliance.

Why: It’s good business practice to look after your investment. Insulation can reduce condensation, mould and damp. Insulating your property keeps a property warm and dry, and makes it easier and more efficient for your tenants to heat. Warm and dry rental homes help your tenants avoid illness, and make them more likely to stay longer.

What you need to do: Check your existing insulation by looking in your ceiling cavity and underfloor areas, hiring a professional to do an assessment, or checking the council building file.

Start talking to your tenant(s) about the right time to install new insulation, or upgrade the existing insulation. Bear in mind that as the deadline approaches, insulation installers will likely be heavily booked, so get in early.

Get the facts about insulation requirements (external link) — Tenancy Services

How much will it cost?

Most homes can be insulated in a day. It costs around $3,400 + GST for a professional installer to install both ceiling and floor insulation in a 96m2 property; larger homes generally cost more.

The cost of installing insulation also varies depending on the shape and location of the building.

There are exceptions – but they must be legally justifiable

There are many types of houses in New Zealand, some of which can’t be insulated, and may qualify for an exemption.

Building design exceptions: Buildings where it’s not physically possible, or would take extensive renovations to insulate, for example:

  • in apartments where people live above and below
  • in houses built on concrete slabs where insulation can’t be installed
  • in homes with skillion (flat) roofs where there’s no ceiling to install insulation.

Access exceptions: When an experienced professional insulation installer:

  • can’t access the spaces to install insulation without removing cladding or lining, carrying out other substantial building work, or causing substantial damage to the property
  • can’t install insulation without creating unacceptable health or safety risks to people.

Minor work, eg temporarily removing exterior base boards to access the underfloor, does not satisfy criteria for an exemption.

If you’re not sure whether insulation could be installed in your rental property, contact an experienced professional insulation installer or a builder, if necessary. If they tell you insulating some areas in the home isn’t possible or reasonably practicable, ask for written confirmation of the reasons to include in your tenancy agreements.

Exceptions to insulation requirements (external link) — Tenancy Services

Penalties for non-compliance

  • Landlords must insulate their rental properties to the required standard by 1 July 2019, or they may be liable for penalties of up to $4,000.
  • Landlords who have more than one tenancy may face separate damages for each property that doesn't comply. They will then still need to install insulation that meets the correct standard.
  • Any landlords who still don’t comply after paying the penalty may face further action.
Do you have more questions about the new insulation requirements?

Do you have more questions about the new insulation requirements?

Contact Tenancy Services on 0800 836 262, go to tenancy.govt.nz (external link) , or check out facebook.com/tenancynz (external link) .

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