12 Jun Recent legislation affecting rental properties – what this means for landlords
Owning rental property can be both a financially rewarding and socially satisfying occupation. However, with the rewards also come certain responsibilities. In recent years, a series of new legislation has come into effect that puts very specific obligations on all landlords to ensure their rental properties are healthy and safe environments for their tenants.
As significant penalties can be imposed for non-compliance with these new regulations, it’s important that as a landlord you ensure you’re fully complied across the new rules, irrespective of whether you manage your own rental properties or have contracted the services of a professional property manager to look after them for you.
To help you keep up to date on these various regulations governing rental property we’ve put together this summary.
Minimum insulation requirements compulsory from 1 July 2019
In 2015, the New Zealand Government made important changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, requiring all landlords to ensure their rental properties meet minimum insulation requirements.
Since 1 July 2016, it has been compulsory to include an insulation statement in all tenancy agreements signed on or after that date. In this signed statement, the landlord must disclose the extent of insulation in the rental property, including where it is, what type of insulation it is, and its condition, so tenants can make an informed decision about renting the property. There are penalties of up to $500 for not making a complete insulation statement, or including any false or misleading statements in the insulation statement.
Furthermore, as from 1 July 2019 (that’s just one year away!), it will be compulsory for every rental property to have the minimum required ceiling and underfloor insulation, where this is reasonably practicable to install. Landlords who do not comply with this requirement could be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000.
So, it’s important that all landlords check that the insulation in their properties meets the minimum required standards and, if necessary, take steps to ensure their rental properties comply with the new requirements before these become compulsory.
Healthy Homes Guarantee Act (HHG)
In December 2017, the Government also passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act (No 2), which stipulates certain minimum standards of heating and insulation for every rental home in New Zealand.
As part of the new legislation, the Government will, over the next year, look at setting new healthy home standards for rental properties with regard to heating, ventilation, draught stopping, drainage, and moisture.
However, none of the new standards will affect the current requirement for landlords to provide ceiling and underfloor insulation in their rental properties by 1 July 2019. In other words, if your rental property doesn’t yet meet the minimum standard of insulation required, you must ensure you rectify the situation by no later than 1 July 2019.
Do you have an asbestos management plan?
In April 2016, the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) became law. It included important new regulations around asbestos safety and the removal of asbestos from a property.
The Act applies to all business activities. Owing to the fact that a residential rental property is classed as a business, the Act also applies to landlords of residential rental properties. Under the Act, landlords of rental premises become a “Person in Charge of a Business or Undertaking” (PCBU) and must follow the laws for that role.
However, the Act only applies to a residential rental property when it is a place of work. What this means is that while the rental property is a home (which it will be most of the time) the Act does not apply to it. But when you need repairs or maintenance to be done on the property then, from the moment a tradesperson enters the property to do this work until they leave the property, your rental property is regarded as a ‘place of work’ for the purposes of the Act, and therefore it’s obligations also apply to you as the landlord of the rental property.
Therefore any time a tradesperson, for example, a plumber, carpenter or electrician, enters your rental property to do work, you are responsible for any safety issues that may result from existing asbestos in the property.
As a landlord, you are responsible for the health and safety of anyone involved with or affected by work on your property, including your tenants. So, if asbestos has been found in your rental property, you are required to investigate so you can prove you’ve taken all reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of exposing any tradespeople and tenants to the asbestos.
However, owing to the fact that certain asbestos materials can simply be left where they are if they are in a ‘stable and contained’ condition, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to then ensure such asbestos remains in that same condition. This is where the need to have an asbestos management plan comes into play.
More changes to the Residential Tenancies Act on the way
Have you heard the news about other proposed changes to the Residential Tenancies Act? There’s talk of future changes to the Act that may prohibit the charging of letting fees by letting agents of residential rental property. What will this mean for landlords and tenants? For more about this, see our article about letting fee changes.
Need help to ensure you comply with your obligations as a landlord?
While all these various rules and regulations governing rental obligations may sound onerous and all too much, it’s important to realise that complying with them will protect not only the tenant but the landlord as well.
Ensuring your rental property is warm, well-insulated and safe in the event of the presence of asbestos will keep your tenants happy and willing to stay a long time with you. It will also ensure your property does not suffer the ill-effects of damp, which is good news for the long-term investment value of your property.
So if you would like to find out more about your obligations under the various legislation affecting residential rental properties, talk to one of the Property Managers at Fahey Property Management Ltd. address the rental property owners we are the ultimate property management company to keep your property up to date, keep you updated with the changes in law, regulations, your duties etc. We can help you ensure your rental property is complies with these changes. As a specialist residential property management company we can help you ensure your rental property complies with all relevant requirements.
Managing rental properties is what we do best. Our Property Managers have a wealth of property management experience which, coupled with their passion for customer service, ensures we provide our clients with a professional service that removes the stress associated with all aspects of managing a rental property. So give us a call today.GET IN TOUCH