Insulation – your new legal obligations

We’d like to make sure you understand the recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act on insulation. We know most landlords want to stay within the law and do the right thing by their tenants.

You must include an Insulation Statement on all new tenancy agreements signed since 1 July 2016.

You must now disclose in the Insulation Statement whether there is insulation, where it is, what type and what condition itis in. This is so your tenants can make an informed decision. A landlord who does not make a complete insulation statement or includes anything they know to be false or misleading is committing an unlawful act. Find out more about how to write up your Insulation Statement.

You must insulate your rental home where practicable – ceiling and underfloor – by 1 July 2019.

The insulation must comply with the new regulations and be safely installed. Good quality insulation helps make your rental home healthier for tenants and more energy efficient. A landlord who fails to comply with the law by 1 July 2019 is committing an unlawful act and may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000. Our new Compliance and Investigations team will make enforcement a priority. Find out more about the law on insulating your rental home.

We advise you to get the work done now to avoid a rush before the deadline, as there will be no excuses for missing it.Hiring a professional to do the job will be safer and make it easier to meet your legal obligations. There can be serious safety risk to both landlords and tenants if it’s not done properly. Find out more about insulation safety.

There are a limited number of government grants available to landlords to cover 50% of the cost of the insulation. These are on a first come,first served basis, if you meet these criteria:

  1. Your named tenant holds a Community Services Card, and
  2. The house was built before the year 2000.

Find out more about the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes grants.

Landlords and other homeowners may also be eligible for help from their local council. A number of councils allow you to add the cost of insulation to their rates and pay it back over about nine years.

We recommend you shop around now for an insulation professional –some offer discounts in the summer months. A professional can also help you to write up your insulation statement properly.

To be sure you stay within the law and avoid penalties, we urge you to act now.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Watson
National Manager, Compliance and Investigations
Tenancy Services, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Health Benefits of insulation massive - study

A plan to wrap up a government-subsidised home insulation scheme is worrying social policy experts.

Listen to the radio segment here >

 

Or read a brief summary below:

Non-profit research institute Motu Economics looked at the first 45,000 homes retrofitted with insulation under the Warm Up NZ Programme, and found the scheme had a 6:1 benefit-to-cost ratio.

That meant that every dollar spent on insulation brought $6 of benefits.

Motu Economics senior fellow Arthur Grimes said the research showed retrofitting insulation prevented one death for every 1000 homes insulated.

The study used the same methodology for valuing life as researchers did when assessing the benefits of roading improvements.

He told Nine to Noon, while insulating homes brought only small energy benefits, the health benefits were huge.

“People kept using pretty much the same amount of energy as before but ended up with much warmer houses.

“[The benefits] were particularly strong for the elderly … and those who’d been hospitalised with a circulatory illness in particular had much better life expectancy … because they were now living in warmer, drier houses.”

Mr Grimes said the research proved what public health experts had always believed.

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“No one had enough data before anywhere in the world to work out if these effects were truly there or not.

“I think ours was the first study to have enough houses insulated to work out if this was the case or not, and it confirmed what the public health experts expected.”

University of Otago public health professor Philippa Howden-Chapman said New Zealand’s excellent health administrative data, including pharmaceutical bills and records of hospital stays, helped the study.

“[Motu Economics’ research] is probably the strongest evidence the government has about social investment, including that if houses are warmer children are more likely to go to school and less likely to get sick.

“Older people also benefit and yet it’s being wound down in the middle of next year even though improving the health of children is still one of the top public sector targets.”

Dr Howden-Chapman said the government also tried to target and give greater subsidies to landlords to fit insulation to their housing stock, but that had not worked so well.

She said that was partly because owner-occupiers had incentives to insulate their homes, because it benefited their own health, but the same was not true of landlords. The rental sector had some of the coldest homes, and therefore the greatest need, she said.

She said between 600,000 and 900,000 homes still had no insulation or inadequate insulation, which was extremely disappointing.

Winter is coming, here’s how to keep warm as temperatures drop

As winter’s icy grasp draws nearer, there are several simple things Kiwis can do to keep their homes warm and themselves healthy.

Insulation, moisture levels and decent curtains were the three things people should focus on to stay warm and dry over winter, said Auckland council eco-design adviser Adrian Feasey.

They were all key in keeping heating at the “magic number” of 18C, he said.

Taking measures to keep heat in and moisture out would also reduce bills as winter drove up energy use.

When temperatures dipped below 18C, the chances of developing respiratory illnesses, which New Zealand is overrepresented in among OECD countries, rose.

Keeping temperatures at or above that magic number could be helped by making sure there was proper insulation in the walls, ceilings and under floors, Feasey said.

A 2010 nationwide study of Kiwi homes by the Building Research Association of NZ (BRANZ), found about 80 per cent of rental houses and 45 percent of owner-occupied homes had little or no wall insulation.

In 2015, the next BRANZ survey showed the gap between rental and owner-occupied homes was still present, with rental properties about twice as likely to be rated ”poorly maintained”, although no specific reference was made to insulation.

“What you should be looking for is that at least the insulation is covering the timber in the ceiling,” Feasey said.

If your home was without insulation, get a couple of quotes and get it done, or ask your landlord to get it done, Feasey said.

The second thing people should take care of was their curtains.

“What you’re really looking for is having a lined curtain,” he said.

The lining trapped hot air between the curtain’s two layers and stopped heat escaping out the window so quickly.

People should also make sure the curtains were closed off at the top as much as possible and make sure they reached all the way to the floor. Read full article here >