Warmer, drier, safer rentals

01 May 2017

After a wet and windy early autumn, temperatures have started to drop and winter is announcing that it’s on the way. Your tenants will likely be well aware of any sources of damp, mould and draughts and that will be the focus of any potential new tenants if you find yourself with a vacant rental property.

Now is the time to address any problems and make it easier to find good tenants while ensuring you can get a better return on your investment and prevent today’s problems turning into tomorrow’s costly damage.

Government legislation via amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act is imposing stricter standards on landlords with new requirements scheduled to come into force over the next few years in the drive for warmer, drier, safer homes.

Smoke Alarms: New regulations which came into force on 1 July 2016 require landlords to have the right type of smoke alarms installed in the right places.

All new or replacement smoke alarms must be long-life photoelectric smoke alarms with a battery life of at least eight years that meet the required product standards, or a hard-wired smoke alarm system.

A landlord who fails to comply with smoke alarm obligations is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000, while a tenant who fails to comply with their responsibilities may be liable for a penalty of up to $3,000.

You’ll find full details at the Tenancy Services website (see link below) and If you haven’t yet installed smoke alarms in your rental property, or have any questions, contact your Quinovic Property Manager.

Insulation: Insulation statements are compulsory on all new tenancy agreements signed since 1 July 2016. The landlord 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.

From 1 July 2019 ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes where it is reasonably practicable to install. It must comply with the regulations and be safely installed. A landlord who fails to comply with the regulations is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000.

NB: The installation or repair of electrically-conductive insulation, known as foil insulation, is banned in all residences including rental homes. Anyone who breaches the ban commits an offence and may be liable to a penalty of up to $200,000.

Do not touch foil insulation without turning off the power at the mains first as there is an electrocution risk. If you have any doubts, contact a qualified electrician. If you choose to remove foil insulation, hire a qualified professional.

Insulation safety has more about meeting the safety requirements and tips on how to check your insulation.

Ventilation & Heating: Landlords should make sure their rental properties can be well heated and ventilated. Warm and healthy rental properties help tenants avoid illnesses and make them more likely to stay longer.

Landlords don’t have to provide heating in every room, but they do have to provide a form of heating in any living room. To get advice about approved forms of heating please contact your local council.

You can also help provide a warm comfortable home by making sure the house has enough power points for your tenants to plug in their own heaters.

Ventilation is important and you should think about how you can make sure the tenant can ventilate the house while keeping it safe and secure. Window stays can be good for this.

Inadequate heating and ventilation can lead to mould growth and dampness. See Tenancy Services’ page on for more information on how to minimise or prevent it.

If you’re a landlord who provides heating and ventilation for your rental property, you’re responsible for maintenance. If there’s a useable fireplace, the chimney needs to be safe and regularly cleaned (check your insurance policy). It’s best to permanently block off unusable fireplaces to prevent tenants using it and to reduce draught.

Landlords are also responsible for regularly servicing ducted heating and ventilation systems.

Extractor fans that vent to the outside are good to have in wet areas of the home such as the bathroom and kitchen.

See further details here:

Tenancy Services, an arm of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, has a useful website covering what landlords must do, and other sensible actions to ensure warmer, drier, safer homes and happier long-staying tenants.

And you can download a plain English four-page PDF setting out your rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act here.

 

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