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Warmer, safer rental home law passed

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister for Building and Housing


31 May 2016 Media Statement
Warmer, safer rental home law passed

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill passed unanimously by Parliament today requiring smoke alarms and insulation in rental properties will save 1000 lives during the next decade, Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“This important bill will make homes warmer, drier and safer for tens of thousands of tenants without imposing unreasonable costs. It will also help housing supply by enabling quicker turnaround of abandoned tenancies and enable the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to enforce housing standards against slum landlords.

“Smoke alarms must be installed in all rental homes by 1 July 2016. All new smoke alarms need to be the 10-year, long-life models. This measure will affect 120,000 homes and is expected to save three lives per year, or 30 during the next decade, as well as reducing fire-related injuries and tens of millions of dollars in property damage.

“The new insulation requirements apply to social housing from 1 July 2016and all other rentals from 1 July 2019. Landlords must include in all tenancy agreements from 1 July 2016 a declaration of the level of insulation underfloor, in walls and in the ceiling, and all insulation installed from 1 July 2016 must be to the latest 2008 standards. This measure is expected to lead to 180,000 properties being insulated by 2019 and to save 129 lives per year. Other benefits include fewer hospital admissions and fewer school days lost.

“This regulatory step on home insulation comes on top of our decision to insulate all state homes in 2009 totalling 30,000, and the Warm Up New Zealand subsidy scheme that has insulated 290,000 homes. Budget 2016 provided a further $36 million to provide targeted assistance to insulate homes with the most at-risk occupants.

“I reject criticism that this policy does not go far or fast enough. The 500,000 homes retrofitted with insulation under this combination of programmes compares to fewer than 50,000 under the previous government. The proposal to require hundreds of thousands of homes already insulated but to an older standard to be brought up to the current standard would add more cost on to rents than the benefit of a few percent extra in heat retention. The timetable in this new law is four years faster than Labour’s bill. Their proposal to add heating as a requirement overlooks the fact heating is already covered in housing regulations.

“These detailed and practical new laws will make our rental homes warmer, drier and safer. MBIE will be running an information campaign for landlords and tenants in the coming months to help ensure its successful implementation.”

ENDS

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