Everything landlords need to know about new insulation laws

Everything landlords need to know about new insulation lawsAs a landlord, you want to give your tenants the best living space possible - so it's important that you stay on top of all the latest housing rules and regulations. The Healthy Homes Standard (HHS) is one such regulation that landlords need to be on top of, particularly because some of these standards are coming into play right now.

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Insulation, for example, will be compulsory in all rental homes from July 2019 - if your property doesn't have the right stuff you could be in for a hefty fine.

Here's what you need to do to get your rental up to standard.

What are the new insulation standards?

In order to keep tenants warm, dry and healthy the government has set minimum standards for insulation. The new law dictates that all landlords must meet these minimum standards by 1 July 2019 or risk facing a fine of up to $4,000 for each non-compliant property. 

These minimum standards state that, where reasonably practicable, rental properties must have underfloor and ceiling insulation installed and in good condition with no mould, gaps or dampness. The insulation must also meet minimum R-value (which measures how well a structure holds heat) and thickness requirements which vary depending on when it was installed and where in the country you live (outlined below). 

What does reasonably practicable mean? 

You may not be required to install insulation if it's not reasonably practicable to do so. This means you could be exempt from the new standards if installing insulation would be expensive, unsafe or difficult. 

Examples of exempt properties could include:

  • Apartments where there is a habitable space above and below the apartment.
  • Houses constructed on concrete slabs where it is not feasible to install underfloor insulation.
  • Houses with skillion roofs where there is no ceiling in place to install insulation above.

If you have to do any of the following to install insulation you could also be exempt from:

  • Removing any cladding or lining.
  • Carrying out other substantial building work.
  • Causing substantial damage to the house.

How can you know if your rental meets the standard?

If you installed insulation from 2016 onward your property should be okay, provided it's in good condition and meets the standards of the 2008 building code.

These standards require:

Minimum R-values for Zones 1 and 2:

  • Ceiling R 2.9
  • Underfloor R 1.3

Minimum R-values for Zone 3:

  • Ceiling R 3.3
  • Underfloor R 1.3

Zones 1 and 2 include most of the North Island, while Zone 3 includes the entire South Island and the Central North. 

On the other hand, if you installed your insulation before 2016 it must have at least the following R-values regardless of its location:

Minimum R-values for timber-framed homes:

  • Ceiling R 1.9
  • Underfloor R 0.9

Minimum R-values for masonry homes:

  • Ceiling R 1.5
  • Underfloor R 0.9

If you're not sure what R-value your existing insulation is you'll need to either contact the installer or have an insulation inspector confirm that it meets the standards.

Installing insulation

If your insulation doesn't meet these new standards then you need to fix the problem right away to avoid a fine and provide your tenants with a warm, dry home. It's usually best to use an insulation installation expert so that you can be absolutely sure that it's installed correctly to a high standard.

Have you got any questions or are you unsure about whether your property meets the new standards? Get in touch with your nearest Professionals office for expert advice and assistance. Our property managers have helped thousands of Kiwi landlords ensure they're meeting these new requirements - we'd love to help you too. 

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