by Greta Yeoman
South Canterbury landlords have been “really proactive” about looming insulation law changes, ahead of the July 1 deadline, EnergySmart Timaru’s Rowena McLintock says.
She said the organisation had been pushing for property managers and independent landlords to get in early on the uptake ever since the changes were announced in 2016.
The law change requires landlords to install or update ceiling and underfloor insulation in all rentals where it is practicable to install it.
Ms McLintock said most landlords in the region had been “really proactive” about the changes, a noticeable difference from many other regions which have been reporting a last-minute rush for insulation work to meet the deadline.
“[South Canterbury] property managers have been fantastic.”
South Canterbury Property Investors Association president Kerry Beveridge agreed, saying the association had been working with its more than 50 members since the changes were first announced.
“Most landlords are on to it.”
As part of the law change, all new tenancy agreements must include a separately signed insulation statement that covers what insulation the home has, where it is, and what type.
Landlords who do not comply with the regulations will be breaking the law and may be liable for a fine of up to $4000, which gets paid to the tenant.
However, Monday’s law changes are not the end of updated requirements for rental properties, after the Government announced a second collection of changes earlier this year.
These included all properties providing some form of heating, installing rangehoods or extractor fans where necessary, and reducing dampness and draughts.
However, they will not be enforced until at least mid-2021.
Ms McLintock said there had been a bit of confusion after additional upgrades were announced in May – just months before the July 2019 law changes – but many landlords had been quickly on the phone to clarify what this meant for them.
This had been “quite comforting” for many landlords, particularly those without property managers, who had clear timeframes about when they were supposed to meet the additional standards, she said.
Mr Beveridge previously said the July 2021 changes would be “good” news for tenants, however, it was not always realistic to expect for “nicer” properties without rent increases.
Speaking to The Courier last week, he said there was some confusion around the changes as room size and other calculations varied the required size and style of heating appliances and other amendments.
However, this was just something landlords would have to work through before the July 2021 cut-off.
“[We] all know these things are coming.”
Options available for funding home insulation
Alongside the government-required insulation upgrades, there are also opportunities for homeowners to fund insulation and heating in their own homes.
Environment Canterbury’s Healthier Homes Canterbury scheme provides an advance for private homes, which is added on to residents’ rates.
EnergySmart Timaru branch manager Rowena McLintock said this could cost as little as $2 to $5 a week for several thousand dollars worth of upgrades.
She said having more insulation meant less spent on power bills, and therefore the small amount paid into rates often meant residents were saving money.
Another funding programme is the government-provided Warmer Kiwi Homes subsidy for insulation and heating.
The EECA programme offers grants covering two-thirds of the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation for homeowners with Community Services cards.
The scheme had extended to heating appliances this year and applications to the one-off fund would be open on July 1, Ms McLintock said.
This meant residents who were eligible for the EECA grants could use the subsidy to partially fund their upgrades, and then put the remainder of the cost on their Environment Canterbury rates for only a few dollars a week, she said.
“It’s a great combination.”