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Final countdown . . . New laws on insulation in rental properties will come into force in a year. PHOTO: EECA ENERGYWISE

by Greta Yeoman

The clock is ticking for Timaru landlords, with less than a year until new insulation requirements for rental properties come in to law.

Updated insulation requirements for rental properties become law on July 1, 2019, requiring landlords to install or update ceiling and underfloor insulation in all rentals where it is reasonably practicable to install it.

NZ Property Investors South Canterbury branch president Kerry Beveridge said there had been “various discussions” among regional and national property investors groups about the coming changes.

New rules

Landlords are now legally required to include insulation statements in all new tenancy agreements.

Property owners must disclose whether there is insulation in the rental home, where it is, what type and what condition it is in, so tenants can make an informed decision about the property, the TenancyServices website explained.

If a statement about insulation is not included in a new agreement or includes false information, landlords can be liable for a $500 penalty.

Landlords could be fined $4000 from July 1 next year if they break the insulation laws.

The money would be given to the tenant, says.

For more information, visit www.tenancy.govt.nz/maintenance-and-inspections/insulation.

He said he had provided landlords in South Canterbury with “lots of information” about the legal requirements, which would come into law under the Residential Tenancies Act.

While a Ministry of Social Development representative said despite three years of notice to landlords many were leaving upgrades to the last year, South Canterbury rental representatives were more positive about the local situation.

EnergySmart Timaru branch manager Rowena McLintock said the insulation company had been “very busy” helping property owners understand whether they needed to update their insulation.

“Landlords have been incredibly proactive.”

Mrs McLintock said the company did free compliance checks for rental properties and had been helping landlords understand whether they could find an accessible access point to install or update insulation on their property.

There were “grey areas” if access points had been carpeted over or ceiling insulation was possible only by removing roofing – which was impractical – so each property was different, she said.

Mrs McLintock said there had been a “big conversation” about tenants copping the cost, and while government subsidies for landlords with tenants who had a community service card had run out, there was still some non-government funding available.

Whether landlords would be able to cover the insulation costs themselves, or they would end up on tenants who would absorb them in increased rents, would depend on “the individual landlord’s circumstances”, Mr Beveridge said.

“I can see both sides of it.”

He said while he understood the concerns that tenants would end up paying for the upgrades through increased rents, the changes were of benefit to tenants.

“They are getting a better-insulated [home].”