In an effort to make New Zealand homes warmer, drier and safer, new rental insulation laws, are set to come into effect on 1 July 2019. As a landlord, it’s important to understand what the new requirements are and how to comply with them—or else risk the penalties.
What do the new laws apply to?
They apply to all residential rental properties, including apartments, although there are some exemptions.
Ceiling and underfloor insulation
All residential rentals must have ceiling and underfloor insulation, unless it’s not reasonably practicable to install. This includes habitable spaces outside the main dwelling, such as converted garages, sleepouts, caravans and studios.
If a dwelling’s physical design or structure makes it impractical to install insulation, then installation in those spaces can be delayed until you can readily access them (e.g. when you renovate the house).
New minimum R values
For homes that currently have no insulation (or insulation was installed after July 2016):
- Zone 1 and 2: Ceiling R 2.9, Underfloor R 1.3.
- Zone 3: Ceiling R 3.3, Underfloor R 1.3.
For homes with insulation installed before July 2016:
- Timber-framed minimum: Ceiling R 1.9, Underfloor R 0.9.
- Masonry minimum: Ceiling R 1.5, Underfloor R 0.9.
An insulation statement
In 2016 it became compulsory for landlords to disclose the extent of the rental property insulation in an insulation statement. This document must be signed by the landlord and included in all new tenancy agreements.
What’s not compulsory?
- Wall insulation.
- Homes slated for demolition within 12 months (consent required).
- Apartments or units with another unit directly above or below a ceiling or floor.
- Homes that met insulation requirements at the time they were built—provided the landlord can supply evidence of this and that the insulation is still in reasonable condition.
What are the penalties?
Failing to meet the new insulation requirements means you could be fined up to $4000. Not providing an insulation statement, or providing a false or misleading statement, can result in a $500 fine.
Important! Foil insulation is highly conductive and is banned in all residential homes due to the risk of electrocution. Do not install it in your rental, or repair it if it’s already installed. This could incur a $200,000 fine if you do.
If you know you have foil insulation, always turn off your mains power before inspecting it.
Common questions we’re often asked
Can I install insulation while my rental is tenanted?
Yes, if you need to enter a tenant’s home to complete an insulation installation, you may do so between 8am and 7pm. However, you must give at least 24 hours written notice.
My rental had insulation before July 2016, but it’s damaged, can I just repair it?
No, it must be replaced and meet the new minimum R values.
My rental has multiple layers of insulation, can I add their R-values together?
Yes, if all the layers are in good condition and their combined R-value meets the minimum requirements.
What if parts of my insulation where installed at different times? (i.e. before and after 1 July 2016)
The minimum requirements for each period (pre July 2016 and post July 2016) will apply to each different part.
What do the new regulations classify as reasonably practicable when it comes to installing insulation under the floor?
It’s considered impractical to install underfloor insulation if:
- The cladding or lining has to be removed.
- Substantial building work is needed to complete the job.
- It will cause substantial damage to the property.
- It creates a substantial health and safety risk.
However, if minor work, such as temporarily removing floorboards, is all that’s required, then you must comply with the new rental insulation laws.
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