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Is Your Rental Property Compliant to the new Legislative Changes?

May 24th, 2016.

Over the last few months there have been several significant legislative changes that have had a major impact on Landlords and their responsibilities to ensure that the rental property meets the new minimum standards that provide tenants with warmer, dryer and safer homes.

Brief outline of the changes:
 

  • Property owners and property managers have a responsibility to ensure that the rental property complies in all ways with not only the Residential Tenancies Act but also with all requirements in respect of buildings, health and safety under any law that applies to the property. Failure to do so could result in prosecution.
  • All rental properties by the 1st July 2016 must meet the new minimum requirements for smoke alarms.
  • All rental properties by the July 2019 must meet the new minimum requirements for insulation.
  • It will be deemed an unlawful act for a Landlord to end a tenancy in retaliation for a Tenant exercising their rights or making a complaint.
 
 
Health and Safety at Work Act
 
In April 2016 the new Health and Safety at Work Act came into effect which saw Landlords (regardless of how the property ownership is structured) be classified as PCBU’s (person conducting a business or undertaking).
 
The new Act stipulates that property owners and property managers have a responsibility to assess and identify any potential health, safety and maintenance risks in and around the rental property.  If you are a Landlord managing your own property, it means you have full responsibility for ensuring that the property meets all of the minimum  requirements and that any trades person you send to the property is also compliant, plus as a PCBU you must be able to demonstrate that you are fully familiar with the new Act. If you are using a property manager, it means your property management company should have all of the appropriate in-house policies in place and also have an approved list of contractors, both of which meet the new Health and Safety requirements.
 
At Pedersens we have engaged a consultant who has helped us review all of our policies to ensure we are meeting our obligations under the new Act.  As part of that process Pedersens will over the next few months assess each property at the routine inspection and report back to our owners with any areas which may require immediate or near future attention in order for the property to meet minimum requirements. It’s important to note that under the new Act, Pedersens Property Management has a responsibility to report and follow up these required items to the owner and the owner has a responsibility to remedy the item in a reasonable amount of time. The penalties for not complying with new Act will be harsh and could involve large fines or prison time.
 
Please feel free to contact your property manager should you wish to discuss how these apply specifically apply to your rental property.
 
 
Smoke Alarms
 
As from the 1st July 2016 all rental properties will be required to be fitted with working smoke alarms that meet the minimum new requirements.
 
If the property does not currently meet the minimum requirements, then it must be fitted with long life photoelectric smoke alarms, correctly installed and as per the manufacturer’s installation guidelines.
 
“The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have new powers to investigate and prosecute Landlords for breaking tenancy laws as part of these new reforms, particularly if there is risk to the health and safety of Tenants. These changes will also ensure that Tenants can take concerns to the Tenancy Tribunal without fear of being evicted for doing so.”
 
An example of some of the new minimum requirements:
 
  1. There must be a working smoke alarm within 3 meters of every bedroom
  2. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure at the start of every tenancy that that the smoke alarms are in working order. It is the Tenants responsibility to ensure replacement as required of the smoke alarm batteries throughout the tenancy and report to the Landlord any defective smoke alarms.
  3. Where there are existing alarms, these are to be replaced by long life photoelectric alarms at the life end of the exiting alarm

 
Pedersens have sourced and engaged a contractor who will undertake an assessment of each property in the coming months to ensure that it meets the new requirements and if it doesn't then they will fit the property out with the minimum required smoke alarms to ensure that the property is fully compliant with the new law. Because of the number of properties we have under management, we have been able to secure preferential rates which we can then pass onto our owners. As Pedersens do not charge our owners a fee for arranging repairs and maintenance and we do not receive any ‘kickbacks’ from our approved contractors, our owners can rest assure that we are not in any way financially gaining throughout this exercise and have objectively sourced a contractor who we feel will provide a quality service at a reasonable price. We will also keep each of our owners fully updated throughout this process and advise if your property requires upgrading to meet the new minimum standard and what cost the relevant costs will be for doing so.
 
The new requirements for smoke alarms will provide much greater safety to both your investment and the Tenant.
 
In the meantime please feel free to contact your property manager should you wish to discuss how these apply specifically apply to your rental property.
 
 

Insulation

 
It has also been announced that by July 2019 every rental property will require a minimum level of insulation.
 
“The new law will require retrofitting of ceiling and underfloor insulation in rental homes over the next four years. The requirement applies from 1 July giving home owners until 1 July 2019 for rental housing to comply. There will also be a new requirement from 1 July 2016 for all Landlords to state in tenancy agreements the level of ceiling, underfloor and wall insulation to help better inform Tenants.”
 
Note - exemptions may apply where it is physically impractical.
 
Again Pedersens are currently in the process of sourcing a contractor who will be able to assess and quote on each property over the next 12 months, so owners fully understand what their property will require to bring it up to the new standard by July 2019. We will continue to fully keep you updated through the process and consult with you as to an agreed action plan for being compliant by July 2019.

 
Please feel free to contact your property manager should you wish to discuss how these apply specifically apply to your rental property.
 

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