New requirements for rental properties announced – What landlords need to know

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Selling your house lawyerThe Government has announced plans to introduce new laws to protect tenants. Along with existing landlords, this will affect those residential buyers looking at buying an investment property.

The main points are:

From July 2016 working smoke alarms must be installed in all residential rental properties.

The new standards will require a minimum of one working smoke alarm in a hall, within three metres of each bedroom door.

The Minister for Business, Innovation and Employment, Dr Nick Smith, says that smoke alarms will save the lives of three people every year. The ministry estimates 120,000 homes require smoke alarms.

From July 2019 all residential rental properties must be fully insulated.

Landlords will be able to apply for a subsidy through the “Warm Up New Zealand; Healthy Homes” scheme although funding for that program is only set to run until next June, at this stage.

The Government say that 18,000 New Zealand homes need insulation and the health benefits of insulation will be reduced hospitalisations and reduced pharmacy costs together with fewer days off work and school.

The Government puts the average cost of retrofitting insulation for both ceiling and floor to be approximately $3,300.00 per property.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have new powers to prosecute landlords for breaking tenancy laws as part of these reforms, especially if there is a risk to health and safety.

Investor property buyers looking at purchasing residential property to rent out should take these plans into consideration, particularly where the cost of fully insulating an older property up to standard will require a substantial amount of capital to be added to the investment required.

The new laws emphasise the importance of conducting a thorough due diligence process prior to unconditional purchase of any residential property.

If you would like to discuss any tenancy or due diligence issues, please contact 
experienced property lawyer Carolyn Ranson by phone on 09 837 6891 or email carolyn.ranson@smithpartners.co.nz.