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What the Property Manager saw

Property Managers see inside more homes than the average Kiwi. With a portfolio of dozens or even hundreds of rental properties, they’re in an excellent position to observe what happens when you insulate your house – or when you don’t.

If you want to learn about the pros and cons of insulation or a ventilation system for your home, you could do a lot worse than talk to an experienced Property Manager. So that’s what we did.

Karen Withers owns Nexus Property Management, a small management company specialising in Auckland’s Herne Bay, Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. She’s very much a hands-on manager who likes to visit regularly and take care of any issues herself. We asked her about the benefits of ventilation and insulation.
I’m passionate about it! From a landlord’s point of view, it’s something that saves on all sorts of maintenance down the line. You won’t need to repaint surfaces or replace curtains so often. And of course, it’s healthier for tenants.
I often find when I’m interviewing new tenants that they’ll ask, “Is this a damp house?” Maybe they have had problems with unhealthy conditions in previous properties, and they’re more careful now. I also get asked if the home is insulated. That can make a big difference to their power bills over winter.
If the property is poorly insulated and ventilated, the landlord will find that people keep moving out. They will also have to spend more on cleaning and replacing damaged materials, as a damp house will deteriorate more quickly. I advise them to take a long-term view, and see ventilation as an investment similar to house painting. You do it to keep the property in good condition and to attract good tenants.
I know of one landlord who owned a million-dollar property with zero insulation and very poor ventilation. There was mould on the ceilings because he was relying on the tenants to open windows and use extractor fans. Many people just can’t be bothered.

Karen, what’s your opinion about home ventilation?

Are tenants concerned about dampness in a rental property?

How does this affect the landlord’s business?

What sort of real-life examples have you come across?

Because the property is in a good area, it was easy to let, but there was a pattern of high tenant turnover. If you’ve got a family in there, and the kids are always sick, they’re going to move out.

I advised the owner to install ceiling insulation, and I obtained quotes that took advantage of the government’s insulation subsidy. After that, the next step is a good house ventilation system.
Think of house ventilation as an investment. It will help you market the property and you’ll attract a better pool of prospective tenants to choose from. Make sure you educate your tenants, so they make the most of the ventilation system and don’t just switch it off.

Any advice for landlords?