Rental homes must meet the insulation standards by July 2019 to avoid $4,000 fines.
Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act mean there are new requirements for insulation in rental homes. A landlord who fails to comply with the regulations will be committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000.
Landlords who have not yet installed ceiling and underfloor insulation in their rentals must assess their insulation requirements to see what needs to be done.
What insulation is needed?
Ceiling and underfloor insulation must be installed, wherever possible. It must comply with the regulations and be safely installed. Wall insulation is not compulsory.
Insulation keeps your rental property warm and dry, making it easier and more efficient for tenants to heat. Warm and dry rental homes help tenants avoid illnesses and make them more likely to stay longer.
It’s also good business practice to protect your investment, by keeping your property in good condition.
All new tenancy agreements must include an insulation statement that covers what insulation the home has, where it is, and what type.
How to assess your current insulation
You can assess your insulation by either:
- Physically looking in your ceiling cavity and underfloor area
- Hiring a professional to do an assessment
- Checking the council building file
If you are hiring a professional, you can find insulation providers online. You should get at least three quotes before committing to a provider.
What does it cost to install insulation?
The cost of installing insulation depends on the size, shape and location of the building being insulated. As a rough guide, however, the average cost of paying a professional installer to put in both ceiling and floor insulation is approximately $3,400 excluding GST for a 96m2 property. You should generally expect to pay more than that for a larger home.
Insulation could be installed in most homes in a day, but waiting times for assessment, and for scheduling the work, can vary considerably depending on where you are in the country, and how many other people are trying to get their insulation installed as well. With the deadline in July 2019, insulation installers may book out quickly.
What if the insulation regulations aren’t met?
Landlords who don’t have the required insulation installed in their rental properties by July 2019 will be in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act, and may face paying a penalty of up to $4,000. These are usually paid to the tenant.
Landlords who have more than one tenancy may face separate damages for each property that doesn’t comply. They will then still need to install insulation that meets the correct standard.
Any landlords who still don’t comply after paying the penalty, may face further action.
Exceptions for installing insulation in Christchurch rental properties
As Christchurch has many types of houses, the law allows for some exceptions to the insulation requirements, including where it is not ‘reasonably practicable’ to install insulation in certain types of property. These exceptions are not loopholes – they must be legally justifiable.
Building design exceptions
Due to the design or construction constraints of some property types, it is sometimes either not physically possible to insulate or would require major renovations to do so.
Access exceptions – what’s acceptable and what’s not
In many properties, the most common way to access the ceiling space or underfloor to retrofit insulation would be through an existing trapdoor to the ceiling or an external door to crawl under the house.
Retrofitting insulation is not considered ‘reasonably practicable’ when an experienced professional insulation installer;
- cannot access the location to install insulation without removing any cladding or lining, carrying out other substantial building work, or causing substantial damage to the property.
- cannot install insulation without creating health or safety risks to people, that is greater than the level of risk normally acceptable when insulation is being installed.
If a landlord is in any doubt whether insulation can be installed in their rental property, they should consult an experienced professional insulation installer and, if needed, a builder. If the experienced professional says insulating some areas is not reasonably practicable or not possible, the landlord should ask for written confirmation of the reasons to include in tenancy agreements. It is not adequate for a landlord to simply claim that ‘insulation is not reasonably practicable’. Failure to comply with insulation obligations under the new legislation could attract a penalty of $4000 for income-related rent landlords. For all other landlords, this penalty applies from July 2019.
Other exceptions to insulation requirements
Other situations in which landlords may be excepted from the insulation requirements are:
- Where within 12 months of the start of a tenancy, the landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild all or part of the property. In this case, the landlord must, if requested, provide evidence of having applied for the necessary resource consent and/or building consent for the redevelopment or building work.
- Where a property is purchased from and immediately rented back to the former owner-occupier – in which case a 12-month exception will apply from the date of purchase.
- If a property does not meet the new insulation requirements, but a landlord can provide evidence that when insulation was originally installed it did comply with particular insulation requirements (such as the specifications outlined in the building consent or an Acceptable Solution or Verification Method) the property is excluded from new requirements, provided the insulation is in reasonable condition.
New tenancy agreements must have an insulation statement
Although landlords still have time to install insulation before the July 2019 deadline, they must now include an insulation statement in all new tenancy agreements stating if the home is insulated, where the insulation is, and what type and what condition it is in. This helps potential tenants to make an informed decision about the property they choose to live in.
Green dog has been installing Insulation throughout Christchurch since 1988 and have a vast experience in installing insulation and can help you look at your option on your Christchurch rental property.