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Rental properties living standards

The recent announcement around new standards for rental properties is welcomed and supported across the industry.

“We are advocates of healthy homes and better living standards, and see the benefits of the new regulations,” says Will Alexander, Property Brokers Divisional Manager in Property Management.

“The big picture is what is important,” says Alexander. “Ultimately, these new standards should have a significant impact on health in general, and the costs associated with well-being should reduce substantially from 2021 and beyond.”

However, the reality of the new regulations is significant, and the costs involved to bring all the properties up to standards will have an impact on the owners in the short term, but long-term tenants will be the ones wearing these costs.

Heating, room dimensions, window sizes and skylights will need to be assessed to determine if a room can maintain 18 degrees. This will determine the minimum power (kilowatts) a heater will need to produce in that home.

The logistics, training, and resource required to achieve this one area of the amendments is significant. To obtain these measurements across over 600,000 residential rental properties remains to be seen.

Based on the last year, rents have increased across Property Brokers by 9.5%, and a significant driver of these increases is the insulation costs and the re-allocation of letting fee charges to owners.

Property Brokers have taken the proactive step by employing a full-time compliance administrator to facilitate and manage the changes over the coming years.

“A review group including existing tenants and owners will be formed, and collectively we will implement a strategy to ensure we comply with all areas in the required timeframe,” says Alexander.

“We feel it is essential that all perspectives are heard when tackling these changes, hence why we are setting a new precedent by including tenants and owners in this process. In the meantime, we should look to history to learn that it is essential that we pause, and take our time to get this right.”

If a landlord is non-compliant by July 1 2019, the Tenancy Tribunal may award exemplary damages – a financial penalty of up to $4,000 against the landlord, which is usually assigned to the tenants.

The amount awarded by the Tenancy Tribunal is dependent on the intention of the landlord, the effect of the non-compliance on the tenant, the interest of both parties as well as the public interest.

In the short term, Property Brokers property management team will change how they inspect properties. Additional checks will assess what level of remedial work is required for each of the properties under management.

Alexander outlined that his property management team “will also provide an assessment for all new properties.”

“We recommend owners don’t look to make any immediate changes, and wait to be guided by their property managers once the government introduces specific details for each new regulation,” says Alexander.

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