If you rent or you are a landlord, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2016 will affect you! An updated version of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, the amended Act came into force on 1st July 2016 and affects all new and current residential tenancies. Under the new Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, both landlords and tenants have responsibilities they must fulfill. Our comprehensive guide will explain what the law changes are and what your responsibilities are.
In 2013, a Warrant of Fitness program for Housing New Zealand properties was trialed. This study was initiated by the Minister of Housing, the Hon Dr Nick Smith. He gave both the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Housing New Zealand joint responsibility to create, test and implement a rental WOF scheme.
The aim of the rental WOF scheme was to help improve the health and safety of tenants, especially those on low incomes. There were 49 key criteria and three distinct areas of consideration:
Of the 400 Housing New Zealand residential rental properties assessed, 95% passed. From this, the Government deduced that implementing a nationwide rental property WOF scheme was somewhat viable. The changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act are a direct result of this study. It aims to make rental homes drier, warmer and safer for those living in rental accommodation. In particular, it aims to reduce fire related injuries and deaths of those living in residential rental properties and make these home warmer, drier and easier to heat.
There are four new changes which may affect you as a landlord. They are:
As a tenant, you have new rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act (RTA). They include:
Like other laws, the RTA is a living document. In 2017, three main amendments discussed were:
A well insulated home is warmer, drier and healthier to live in because it keeps warmth in and moisture out. The RTA says all rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation by the 1st July 2019. If the insulation was installed before the 1st July 2006, is in reasonable condition and meets the minimum R values, it won’t need updating. The minimum R values for timber framed homes are R 1.9 in the ceiling and R 0.9 underfloor. For a masonry home the ceiling minimum is R 1.5 and R 0.9 underfloor.
But, if there is no insulation or it was installed after the 1st July 2016, it has different minimum requirements. In Zones 1 and 2, the ceiling is R 2.9 and the underfloor R 1.3. In Zone 3, the ceiling insulation must be R 3.3 and R 1.3 underfloor. You can learn more about the Zones and the insulation requirements on the Tenancy Services website.
To check if your rental property has the required level of insulation, it’s best to hire a professional. They will give you a written report and the information in it will help you make your declaration. In addition, you can use this report to add to the minimum insulation levels required by law. This may result in you being able to charge a higher rent price and it makes your property more desirable for tenants.
Smoke alarms are compulsory in rental properties because they save lives and reduce injuries. Furthermore, smoke alarms must be in specific places within the home:
In addition, new smoke alarms must be:
Tenants are responsible for changing batteries when required. They must also not remove or interfere with the smoke alarm. Finally, they must tell the landlord if there are any problems with it. Consequently, landlords are responsible for checking the smoke alarms work at the start of each tenancy. They must also keep them in good working order.
As a result of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, rental homes will become warmer, safer and healthier to live in. Most of all, we’ll lose our reputation as a country with poor quality housing and lower costs associated with poor living conditions too!