Are you a landlord of residential property? This article provides a brief update on recent developments in residential tenancy laws and regulations that you need to be familiar with.

 

Houses

Insulation

The Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 (“regulations”) came into force on 1 July 2016. If you are a landlord of residential property, you need to comply with these new regulations.

The regulations provide that ceiling and underfloor insulation must be installed, where reasonably practicable, in residential tenancies by 1 July 2019. Landlords who do not comply with this regulation may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000.

If your rental property already has underfloor and ceiling insulation, it may require an upgrade to meet the required standards. We recommend obtaining advice from a qualified professional insulation installer to ensure the insulation of your rental property complies.

A signed insulation statement must be included in all new tenancy agreements. We recommend that the Residential Tenancy Agreement available from tenancy services be used to document any new tenancy agreement (which we can advise on), as this form of agreement includes the necessary insulation statement.

Smoke Alarms

The regulations also require working smoke alarms in all residential tenancies. This requirement is already in force. The smoke alarms must be photoelectric and be hard wired or have a battery life of at least 8 years. There must be a smoke alarm within three metres of each bedroom door, or in every room where a person sleeps.

It is the landlord’s obligation to ensure that smoke alarms are working at the start of each new tenancy and that the smoke alarms remain in working order during the tenancy. It is the tenant’s responsibility to let the landlord know of any issues with the smoke alarms.

Letting Fees

Charging the tenant for any letting fees (additional fees other than bond money or rent) or key money is now prohibited under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986.

Healthy Homes Standards

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act passed in 2017 (“Healthy Homes Act”). The Healthy Homes Act allowed for the development of standards to improve the quality of rental housing in New Zealand (“standards”).

The regulations detailing the standards are still being finalised. Once the standards are finalised guidance will be available to help landlords comply with them. Landlords will be required to comply with the standards within 90 days of any new tenancy from 1 July 2021. All rental properties must meet the standards by 1 July 2024.

The standards cover heating; insulation; ventilation; moisture ingress and drainage; and draught stopping. Further information about the standards can be found here:

https://www.hud.govt.nz/residential-housing/healthy-rental-homes/healthy-homes-standards.

If you are a landlord of residential properties, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with the standards and ensure that you have a plan in place to comply with them in due course.

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No. 2)

This bill is currently working its way through parliament, and will address issues relating to methamphetamine contamination of rental properties, unlawful residential tenancies, and the liability for damage to rental premises caused by a tenant. This Bill may also have significant consequences for residential property investors.

We at Harkness Henry have significant experience with residential tenancies. Please contact us if you have any queries about any of the current, new or upcoming law changes.


Further information