Last year the Government announced it’s intention to reform the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act (HHGA). The RTA reforms aim to give more rights to tenants and reform the tenant – landlord relationship while the HHGA amended the RTA to allow the Government to set ‘Healthy Homes Standards’. These standards are regulations that set the minimum requirements for landlords to create warmer and drier rental properties. Both reforms have now been released for consultation. Submissions can be made on the RTA and a discussion document outlining the proposed ‘healthy homes’ standards.
Healthy Homes Guarantee Act
The HHGA passed into law in December last year, amending the RTA. Since then the government has released that the proposed standards will focus on heating, ventilation, draught-stopping, drainage and the control of moisture in residential rental properties.
The discussion document expands on what these standards may be:
- Heating – what minimum indoor temperature should heating devices be sized for, where should heating be located, should landlords only be required to provide heating devices when portable electric heaters are insufficient and should certain heating devices be unacceptable?
- Insulation – what is an appropriate level of insulation for rental homes and how should the condition of insulation be assessed?
- Ventilation – what is the appropriate level of ventilation to ensure rental homes have adequate airflow in areas of high moisture?
- Moisture ingress and drainage – are existing laws for rental homes sufficient to protect against moisture and inadequate drainage or could regulations better protect against moisture entering the home?
- Draught stopping – what measures should landlords take to stop drainage in a rental home?
The discussion document also asks for feedback on the timing and phasing for when landlords must comply with the standard.
Submissions Close at 6pm Monday 22 October
Reform of the Residential Tenancies Act
The reform of the RTA is in line with the Government’s goal of improving renters’ rights. This reform has four key goals. Improving tenant’s security and stability in their rental property, ensuring that the law balances the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords while ensuring that tenants ‘feel at home’, modernizing the Act to ensure that it meets the changing trends of the rental market and improving the quality of boarding houses and the accountability of their owners.
To meet these goals the Government proposes the following changes:
- Ending no cause terminations
- Increasing the amount of notice a landlord must give tenants to terminate a tenancy from 42 days to 90 days.
- Limiting rent increases to once a year.
- Better facilitating tenants and landlords to reach agreements about pets and minor alterations to the home.
- Investigating if boarding houses need to provide better protections to their tenants.
- Introducing new tools and processes into the compliance and enforcement system.
The consultation period for the RTA closes on the 21st of October.
The final thing to be aware of is that there is significant overlap between the HHGA and the RTA. Homes that are compliant under existing insulation provisions may not meet the proposed HHGA standards. However we will have another blog post on that once the final standards have been set.
What Should You do?
Going forward the best thing to do is to assess the quality of your rental property and talk to your tenants about what they think the issues are. When the standards come into force in July next year it is important that you are ahead of the market and that your property meets the standards. This will ensure that your property both retains its capital value and that you can receive your optimum returns on your investment. It is also more important than ever to ensure that your have a high quality of tenant and a good relationship with them.
Remember that submission close on the 21st and 22nd of October
If you have any questions about what the standards could mean for your property please don’t hesitate contact your property manager, email us (enquires@quinovicLQ.co.nz) or ring the office (04 499 5725). For a chat give Alex a ring at 021 831 955.