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Do Landlords Have to Keep Homes Insulated, Warm AND Dry?

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A 71 year old dampness law has been brought up and used in favour of tenants in the Tenancy Tribunal over the last couple of years, and Rentals.co, your rental experts, has guidance about what this means for renters and landlords.

The little-known Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 s45(1) sections B and C specify that “A landlord is required to provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair, and to keep the property free from dampness.”

Have you heard of this regulation? Few have – and, consequently, landlords unaware about the regulation are being pinged by the Tenancy Tribunal.

Image source – MBIE Tenancy Services

It was around 2015 that awareness of this law returned. In just Wellington and Dunedin in 2017 alone, the standard was cited over 30 times by Tenancy Tribunal adjudicators.

The New Zealand Universities Law Review published a study that year in which VUW and Otago university academics highlighted the law to be cited in favour of families up before the Tenancy Tribunal.

In 2014, Wellington-based Otago University researchers released a report on a rental housing warrant of fitness scheme, which was piloted in 144 houses in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Only eight houses passed the warrant’s minimum standards nationwide. While WOFs for houses aren’t happening, new insulation rules give landlords until 2019 to have attic and underfloor insulation completed (contact Rentals.co to be put in touch with an insulation provider).

Meanwhile, some helpful advice from MBIE’s Tenancy Services:

  • Warm and healthy rental properties make tenants more likely to stay longer
  • Landlords don’t have to provide heating in every room, but they do have to provide a form of heating in any living room under the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947.
  • Landlords are encouraged to sure the house has enough power points for tenants to plug in their own heaters (plug-in heaters can often fulfil the dry requirement)
  • Ventilation is essential. Window stays are recommended to let wet air out.
  • Landlords who provide heating and ventilation are responsible for maintenance. If there’s a usable fireplace, the chimney needs to be safe and regularly cleaned
  • Landlords are also responsible for regularly servicing ducted heating and ventilation systems.
  • A rental property that’s well-insulated and has energy-efficient heating and appliances (such as ENERGY STAR® rated whiteware, energy-saving light bulbs, and efficient shower heads) is easier to market and can attract a higher rent.
  • World Health Organisation and NZ Ministry of Health recommended temperatures are a minimum of 18° during the day, or a minimum of 20° for more vulnerable groups like children, the elderly and people who are ill, plus a minimum of 16° in your bedroom overnight.

If you have an urgent maintenance request, please click the Repair or Request Form on this page (www.rentalexperts.co.nz/tenants).

If you’re a landlord wanting to know more about your obligations and responsibilities and how Rentals.co and ease the burden, please get in touch (www.rentalexperts.co.nz/contact).