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Bad time for costly rental property standards

A housing shortage is the wrong time to whack rental property owners with thousands of dollars of additional compliance requirements, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

The new standards, announced today, will require rental properties to have a living room heater, insulation above the current requirement, extractor fans in bathrooms and rangehoods in kitchens, a ground moisture barrier to stop rising damp, adequate drainage, as well as draught-stopping tape.

The additional insulation requirement is the biggie and it looks like Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford has let the insulation industry write the rules, Mr Butler said.

Official advice to the Minister was that the optimum cost-benefit is to the 1978 standard of R 1.9 in ceilings, as currently required, and anything over that has diminishing benefit, he said.

Moreover, underfloor insulation reduces heat loss to such a small degree that it is wasted money, he said.

Yet the Minister has gone ahead and whacked rental property owners with the most extreme 2008 option of R 2.9 in ceilings, which means that all insulation will have to be redone, which must be a dream result for the insulation industry, Mr Butler said.

Today around the country there will be rental property owners who thought they were doing the right thing by installing insulation as required who now find out that they have to do it all over again, he said.

Claims by the Minister to justify his standards turned out to be wrong, Mr Butler said.

The World Health Organisation never recommended a minimum indoor temperature, as the discussion document claimed.

The Building Research Association of New Zealand found that only 2.7 percent of renters thought their dwelling was cold and damp, which is hardly a crisis, Mr Butler said. (See The proposed healthy homes regulations: an assessment http://www.tailrisk.co.nz/documentlist)

There is not a crisis in the condition of rental property. There is a crisis in the availability of rental property and Mr Twyford’s extra compliance requirements will make this worse, Mr Butler said.

“Owners have three options: Absorb the extra costs, raise rents, or sell. Ask any accountant. Owners are selling,” Mr Butler said. “Then where will renters live?”

Stop the War on Tenancies is a group that since last October has been highlighting the evidence that successive governments have ignored while creating rental property policy.

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