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Standards set to improve . . . South Canterbury Property Investors Association president Kerry Beveridge, who owns and manages the City Boarding House as well as several other rental properties, says changes to rental standards by the Government have always been announced with plenty of time for landlords to comply with them. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Improved standards for New Zealand’s rental properties will be good news for tenants, South Canterbury Property Investors Association president Kerry Beveridge says.

Mr Beveridge said the Government’s recent announcement of additional standards for rental properties would be “good” for tenants.

“I understand that it will cost landlords money to comply, but I don’t understand why anyone thought that it was OK to tolerate inadequate rentals for so long.”
– Ruth Swale

“It’s cool that they’re putting in specific stuff,” he said of the regulations.

The new regulations – which will not be enforced until at least mid-2021 – state that all rental homes will be required to have some form of heating that could heat the home’s main living area to at least 18degC and will have to have ceiling and underfloor insulation to either meet the 2008 Building Code or be a minimum of 120mm thick.

Kitchens and bathrooms will have to have extraction fans or rangehoods, and draughts that make homes harder to heat will have to be blocked.

Anglican Care South Canterbury social justice advocate Ruth Swale, who has supported several individuals and families with housing issues in the region, said she was pleased with the announcement.

“[I] am very pleased that the new healthy homes standards will finally ensure that rental homes are warmer and drier.”

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

Mr Beveridge said the timespan given for the recently-announced improvements – as well as previous laws around improved insulation which will come into effect in July – had always been given with enough time to allow landlords to comply.

“It needs to be done.”

He said while a lot of landlords were in it for the long haul, there were several property owners in South Canterbury selling up their buildings as it was not worth the cost of bringing them up to standard.

Mr Beveridge estimated there were about 50 members in the South Canterbury Property Investors Association, but most members would have several rental properties to their name.

While there were always “lots of opinions and thoughts” when laws were introduced, it was always up to the individual landlord to work out whether they could budget for and absorb the cost of the improvements, or whether it would impact on the rental prices, he said.

“I don’t think its unfair to expect that a nicer property will be more expensive.”

Anglican Care social justice advocate Ruth Swale

However, Ms Swale expressed concerns over the costs being transferred to tenants, especially those in properties that were presently “substandard” rentals.

“I understand that it will cost landlords money to comply, but I don’t understand why anyone thought that it was OK to tolerate inadequate rentals for so long.”

The new standards are expected to become law by mid-2019, but will not be enforced until at least mid-2021.

Private landlords and boarding house managers will be required to upgrade their properties by July 1, 2021 while all Housing New Zealand and registered community housing providers will have to comply by July 1, 2023.