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.