As the countdown to insulation compliance for rental homes reaches its final 12 months, landlords are being warned that the Government intends to start issuing fines as soon as new laws come into effect from July 1, next year.
From July 1, 2019, it will be compulsory to have ceiling and underfloor insulation in all rented homes covered by the RTA where it is reasonably practicable to install. It must comply with the regulations and be safely installed.
Private landlords must also complete an insulation statement. If their properties currently fail to meet insulation standards, they must sign the insulation statement detailing the status of their property's insulation and ensure the standards are met by July 1, 2019, or be liable for a fine.
After July 1, 2019, for all rental homes, any damaged insulation - including rips, tears, excessive settlement or compression, vermin nests or entrance holes patches of mould or other contamination – will need to be replaced. There must be no visible gaps between the insulation and the edge of the framing or between pieces of insulation.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) told TVOne that its Tenancy Services branch will be cracking down on enforcement as soon as ceiling and underfloor insulation becomes mandatory in all rental properties.
"Tenancy Services are treating insulation statements as a priority area and are taking stronger action where breaches are found," MBIE spokesman Michael Docherty said.
Mr Docherty also said the Government was already investigating cases of incomplete insulation statements, which have been required on all tenancy agreements signed since July 1, 2016. Although the ministry has already issued 15 warnings and undertaken a successful prosecution, Mr Docherty warned all landlords they’ll be facing increased scrutiny.
“The Tenancy Compliance and Investigation Team (TCIT) has found a lack of adequate insulation statements were common when undertaking a recent audit of 55 landlords," Mr Docherty said. "Merely stating that insulation is 'unknown' is a breach of [their] obligation," Mr Docherty said.
"If landlords are genuinely unable to establish the information they need to provide, then they need to set out what information is missing and what steps they have taken to obtain this information.
"All reasonable efforts must be made to obtain the necessary information to do this, including assessing the building, engaging a professional to do an assessment and/or checking the council building file."
The maximum fine which can be given to landlords who fail to provide insulation information is $500. However, in an interview with stuff.co.nz, national TCIT manager Steve Watson said his staff would target landlords from July 1, 2019, “to ensure that they have met their obligations to have insulation installed” and that non-compliance could result in fines of up to $4000.
Last year, when Harrisons Energy first started warning landlords about compliance and urged them to come and talk to us about making sure their properties were adequately insulated, we quoted a survey by BRANZ, the Building Research Association. The survey revealed that for rental, 32% were poorly maintained, 18% felt a little damp, 10% were damp in places, and 3% were quite damp or damp throughout. And it’s this dampness and cold conditions that combine to create health problems for those living in sub-standard homes.
And now retail and services watchdog Consumer NZ has added its voice to those pushing the importance of insulation to a healthy home.
"You should only opt for a ventilation system if you've installed floor and ceiling insulation (if possible) as well as a decent heat source," Consumer NZ website stated. "Tackle moisture at the source. Identify any sources of airborne moisture, such as bathrooms, and then consider installing a shower dome or extractor fan. Also look at fitting a plastic moisture control sheet to stop rising damp, and check if water is pooling under the home from any blocked drains."
Throughout the Government advice around well-insulated, healthy homes, it’s stressed that landlords should get rigorous advice from reputable installers and insulation experts in order to know their buildings comply. Harrisons Energy is the ideal company to contact as our nationwide coverage with local business owners means you will talk to someone who understands regional requirements as well as the new legislation requirements.