Insulation Regulations For Rentals

NZ-Insulation-Regulations-Harcourts

Landlords are now obligated to provide warmer, drier and safer homes for their tenants. Any new, replacement or top-up insulation installed after 1 July 2016 in a rental home must meet the regulations that will apply to all rental homes from 1 July 2019. A landlord who fails to comply with the regulations is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000.

Insulation is one of the most effective ways to save energy in a home since it keeps it warm in the winter and cool in the summer. And a warmer home is a drier, and healthier home. It is estimated that in one year a typical home can save up to $400 on energy bills by installing ceiling insulation. Adding underfloor insulation could save even more!

Recent studies in New Zealand have shown a link between insulation and health. The Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences study showed:

  • A significant drop in energy use when the houses were insulated.
  • Once the houses were insulated, they were drier and warmer.
  • People in insulated houses reported their houses were “significantly warmer”.
  • There was a significant improvement in the self-reported health of those living in the insulated houses compared to those whose houses were not insulated.
  • Adults and children in insulated houses reported visiting their GP less.
  • Adults and children in insulated houses reported that they were admitted to hospital less often for respiratory conditions.
  • Adults and children in insulated homes were significantly less likely to report sick days.
  • People living in insulated houses reported less visible mould inside their homes.

Who is exempt?

As New Zealand has many types of houses, the law allows for some exceptions to the insulation requirements, including where it is not ‘reasonably practicable’ to install insulation in certain types of property. These exceptions are not loopholes – they must be legally justifiable.

Due to the design or construction constraints of some property types, it is sometimes either not physically possible to insulate or would require major renovations to do so. Examples of types of properties that would meet exception criteria would be apartments where there is a habitable space above and below the apartment, houses constructed on concrete slabs where it is not feasible to install underfloor insulation, and homes with skillion roofs where there is no ceiling in place to install insulation above.

Other situations in which landlords may be exempted from the insulation requirements are:

  • Where within 12 months of the start of a tenancy, the landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild all or part of the property. In this case the landlord must, if requested, provide evidence of having applied for the necessary resource consent and/or building consent for the redevelopment or building work.
  • Where a property is purchased from and immediately rented back to the former owner-occupier – in which case a 12 month exception will apply from the date of purchase.
  • If a property does not meet the new insulation requirements, but a landlord can provide evidence that when insulation was originally installed it did comply with particular insulation requirements (such as the specifications outlined in the building consent or an Acceptable Solution or Verification Method) the property is excluded from new requirements, provided the insulation is in reasonable condition.

To read the full Insulation requirements, click here.

Understanding the upcoming bright line test changes

bright-line-test-nz

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash confirmed that the election “promise” to extend the bright line test from 2 years ownership to 5 years will be enacted, effective for properties acquired after the date of Royal Assent. The intended purpose of extending the bright line test is to ‘dampen property speculation’ and make homes more affordable. The extension means that profits from residential investment properties which are bought and sold within five years will generally be taxable.

Current exemptions from the bright line test will remain. They include the sale of an owner-occupier’s main home, inherited property, or the transfer of property in a relationship settlement.

The extension to the bright line test will apply to residential investment properties purchased from the date on which the bill receives the Royal Assent, which is expected in March. Nash adds that the passage of the bill will also enable the Tax Working Group to factor the change into any consideration of a comprehensive capital gains tax.

Auckland Property Investors Association president Andrew Bruce has previously said that the changes will impact on property speculators rather than long-term investors. “The majority of property investors are in it for the longer than five years and are unlikely to feel massive levels of pain with the extension of the bright line test.

See more information on the bill, click here.

AGENT ADVICE: buying investment property in Queenstown

Queenstown is a confident property market and investors are benefiting from extremely high rental occupancy levels and year-round tourism.

Airport numbers have risen by more than 102 per cent in the last six years, the average median dwelling value in Queenstown jumped a third in a single year (2015-16), and the average house price has topped $1M. It’s easy to see why national and overseas investors continue to choose Queenstown, but there’s also a lot to consider. Continue reading “AGENT ADVICE: buying investment property in Queenstown”

Top tips for applying for a rental property as a pet owner

pet owner rentals

Some property owners associate pets with added mess, damage and disturbance which can make it more difficult for pet owners to find a rental home.

However, many landlords are beginning to see the advantages of pet owners as tenants. They may be more responsible if they have a furry friend to look after and they may take even more care of the property.

But, when applying for a rental, pet owners will almost always face competition from people who don’t have the worry of animals. This can be a difficult situation, but we know pet owners deserve just as much of a chance! That’s why we’ve put together these application tips — they’re just a few extra ways that will help you get a look in if you have pets.

  1. Be honest

Never try to pretend you don’t have pets — we will find out! And it might be a problem down the line. Tell us your situation when you’re first looking for a property and we’ll be able to work to your situation.

  1. Tell us more!

The more you can tell us about your pet, the more likely an owner will be to choose you. What breed? How old? Long or short hair? Do they stay at home during the day? Where do they sleep? Do they make a lot of noise? Write it all down and attach to your application — you could even add a photo!

  1. Include pet references

It may seem silly, but references for your pet will go a long way. You could ask a previous property manager or landlord, your vet, doggy day care or pet trainer to put a few good words together about the behaviour and character of your pet.

  1. Understand the agreement

Tenancy agreements can include a pet clause outlining what will happen in the event of damage caused by pets. They may request the full four weeks’ bond as cover. Make sure you understand the implications and speak to your property manager if you’re unsure.

  1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

It doesn’t hurt to ask — a property may be advertised as “no pets”, but exceptions can sometimes be made. If you can deliver on the above points, landlords may be encouraged to choose you.

 

We love animals and we don’t think you should sacrifice finding a good home just because you have pets. Our number one piece of advice is to stay in touch with your property manager — we can understand your situation and work hard to find you a place that suits you (and your furry companion!) down to the ground.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about our property management services.

 

Meth contamination — what landlords need to know

Meth contamination rental home

Meth contaminated properties have popped up a lot in the media over the last few years and, in June 2017, a new national standard came in to provide guidance on the testing and clean-up of methamphetamine in houses.

Standards New Zealand manager Carmen Mak said it would make houses where meth had been found safer.

“Application of the standard will provide assurance that activities such as screening, sampling, testing, assessing, and decontamination of contaminated properties, and disposal of their contents, are carried out in accordance with good practice.”

For landlords, meth contamination is a huge concern. On one side you want to keep your tenants safe and on the other you need to make sure you don’t find yourself with a contaminated house or unable to claim on your insurance.

By following the new standard and operating with best practice, landlords can minimise the risk. Keep reading to find out more.

What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It’s a potent stimulant and it has long-lasting and harmful effects on the central nervous system, making it a drug with high potential for widespread abuse.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

How does a property become contaminated with meth?

Properties can become contaminated when tenants use or manufacture meth on the premises, and the level of contamination varies on how much is used or manufactured. When meth is manufactured, contamination tends to be higher and the home may need to be completely stripped and cleaned and, in extreme cases, demolished.

Luckily, strict procedures for identifying meth contamination are becoming more commonplace in New Zealand.

What are my obligations as a landlord?

It is your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy home for your tenants. If a landlord rents out a property that is contaminated, they are breaching their obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, as well as other legislation such as the Building Act and the Health Act.

When is the best time to do a meth-test?

If possible, conduct a test prior to buying a property as part of your due diligence. The costs of decontamination are high and you want all the information before purchasing.
Here at Harcourts, for example, we now have a clause in all our sale and purchase agreements stating a buyer can decide whether to carry out a contamination test as part of their due diligence process.

If you already own a property and suspect it may be contaminated, it’s vital to take immediate action for the safety of your tenants. If they’re living in a contaminated home, they’re exposed to serious health risks in both the short- and long-term, so “now” is always the best time.

How do I have my property tested?

A test usually costs between $100 and $300. Your property manager can advise the right method of testing for you and will put you in contact with a reputable company.
We encourage you to take meth contamination extremely seriously and be vigilant in having your property tested. And, if you find that your property is contaminated, we recommend that you tell the police or local council.

Does my landlord insurance cover meth contamination?

It’s vital to regularly check and update your insurance cover. Some policies may outright excluded drug-related damages and some policies limit cover to a certain amount — a limit of $20,000 for example is unlikely to cover a full decontamination of a meth lab.

There may be certain obligations landlords have to meet such as: exercising reasonable care and obtaining references for tenants; completing inspections every three months and upon change of tenants; keeping written reports of inspections. You may also need to provide evidence that the property became contaminated while you were insured, in which case you will need to have carried out previous meth tests and have recorded their results and dates.

Harcourts Property Management has strict processes in place to protect our landlords against methamphetamine contamination. We take great care in our tenant selection process, we conduct thorough inspections every three months and we keep full documentation of the previously listed items — whatever happens, we’ll help make sure you’re covered should your property become contaminated.

Get in touch to find out more about our services, and click here to download the full standard from the Standards New Zealand website.

 

Renting FAQS: your questions answered!

tenancy FAQs

Renting for the first time? Heading to university? You might be feeling a bit apprehensive about getting your own place or maybe you’re unsure about the costs and rules involved in a tenancy.

We’ve put together a list of our most frequently asked questions from tenants to help you get in the know. Keep reading to see if we answer your question and, if not, get in touch and we’ll get back to you quickly. Continue reading “Renting FAQS: your questions answered!”

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