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Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations

1. Under the final Cabinet decisions, how will I know if I need to upgrade my insulation to meet the Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations?

Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations will require rental properties that already have insulation installed be upgraded if the ceiling and underfloor insulation does not meet the R-value levels set out in the table below at the time the insulation was installed. These R-values are shown in the table below. Level of insulation below which rental properties must be upgraded to meet the Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations

These levels approximate the requirements for new properties built between 1978 and 2001 (NZS4218P:1977).

If the insulation has become very compressed, is damp, damaged or is incomplete it must be upgraded to meet the Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations. For existing insulation, guidance from MBIE will set out a simple test for landlords and tenants, including the requirements that insulation should be dry and in reasonable condition with no gaps.

2. What level do I need to upgrade my property to?

All rental properties that currently have no insulation in ceilings and underfloor, must have new insulation installed to levels that have been set to approximate the current Building Code requirements for new homes to meet Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations. The map illustrates the Building Code climate zones that the table refers to, with Zone 1 being the warmest areas and Zone 3 the coldest. Minimum new and topped up insulation requirements for rented homes (product R-values)

Zone 1 and 2

Ceiling R 2.9

Underfloor R 1.3

Zone 3

Ceiling R 3.3

Underfloor R 1.3

3. When will landlords be required to insulate rental properties?

There will be a two-stage approach for landlords to implement the insulation requirements:

Social housing provides (housing where tenants pay an income-related rent for a Housing New Zealand (HNZC) or community housing provider homes) by 1 July 2016; and

The remainder of the residential rental market (including boarding houses) by 1 July 2019. Local authority housing and housing owned by Government other than HNZC (for example, properties owned by school Boards of Trustees), will be required to comply with Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations by 1 July 2019. For a new tenancy commencing after 1 July 2016 where a tenant pays an income related rent, a landlord would have 90 days from the commencement of the tenancy to retrofit insulation.

4. How will the proposed regulations help to ensure that insulation is properly installed to Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations?

The proposal is to require any new installations of insulation to comply with the existing voluntary insulation installation standard, NZS4246, to maintain the intended thermal performance of insulation products. The advantages of adopting NZS4246 are that it:

covers most housing designs and construction types as well as the most common insulation products;

better defines good post-installation labelling practice to ensure that it is clear what levels of insulation have been installed;

provides hazard management/risk identification processes for the people undertaking the work to follow; and,

provides specific guidance on protecting the health and safety of the installer.

5. Can landlords do top-ups of existing insulation to meet the Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations?

The regulations will permit insulation top-ups over existing ceiling installations where the total R-value of the existing and new insulation combined would meet the new thermal performance requirements. The proposed Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations will clarify that, in total, any top-up installation must meet the required R-values. Decisions on when top-ups are appropriate may require professional judgement. Requiring insulation installation to meet NZ4246 will provide guidance on this for installers. You can find the requirements of insulation standard here: NZS4246. Do-it-yourself landlords who are unsure about how to meet the thermal requirements may wish to seek professional advice. This advice would include discussions of options such as top-ups of insulation.

6. Can landlords install insulation themselves?

Landlords are able to install their insulation themselves. However, if landlords install the insulation incorrectly they could face insurance and liability consequences for faulty or negligent installation. MBIE recommends that landlords refer to NZS4246 and/or consider hiring professional installers, as this likely to reduce health, safety and quality assurance risks. Professional installers can often buy insulation in bulk and pass these savings onto clients, reducing costs for landlords.

7. How much will the insulation cost to meet the Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations?

For the purposes of assessing the potential costs and benefits of insulating rental properties we have used actual averages from EECA’s Warm Up New Zealand scheme. EECA have insulated more than 290,000 properties through their scheme (including about 50,000 rental properties). The average cost of retrofitting both ceiling and floor insulation is approximately $3,300 (excluding GST). It is worth noting, however, that those in the South Island and the Central Plateau in the North Island, the colder parts of New Zealand, are likely to have higher costs to purchase insulation products because of the higher level of ceiling insulation required. Landlords are responsible for the costs of insulating their homes. If landlords increase rent they must comply with the Residential Tenancies Act, and give clear written notice 60 days before imposing rent increases.

8. Is the Government banning the use of aluminium foil to insulate properties?

MBIE has heard concerns expressed about the life safety risks of retrofitting electrically conductive foil insulation under floors. To address this issue, MBIE’s Chief Executive is considering using his powers, under section 26 of the Building Act 2004, to declare a ban on the installation of conductive insulation materials in residential properties. The scope of this ban would be limited to “installing conductive insulation into a residential property with an existing electrical installation”. This would be the first use of this power under the Building Act and would require MBIE to undertake public consultation, as required by the Act. In conjunction with a ban on the installation of conductive insulation into a residential property with an existing electrical installation, the Residential Tenancies Regulations will also require that conductive insulation not be used. Additionally, installing conductive foil insulation products in residential properties would not comply with the requirements of NZS4246 as they are out of scope of the standard.

9. Are any properties excluded from having to meet the new Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations?

The following three categories of residential rental properties are excluded from the insulation requirements in the regulations:

where it is not practical to retrofit insulation because of the physical design or construction of the property, but only until such time as access to these spaces becomes possible; Ceiling insulation will have to cover all applicable habitable spaces i.e. spaces used for daily activities. A suspended floor must have underfloor insulation in reasonable condition covering all applicable habitable spaces. However it may not always be practical to retrofit insulation in all habitable places. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority provides guidance on what it considers to be ‘practical’. It includes: minimum clearance space, size of the access hole, and type of roof.

where, within 12 months of the commencement of a tenancy, the landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild all or part of the property, and can provide evidence of having applied for the necessary resource consent and/or building consent for the redevelopment or building work; and

where a property is purchased and immediately rented back to the former owner occupier- in which case a 12 month exemption will apply from the date of purchase.

Google Residential Tenancies Insulation Regulations for up to date information.