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By Marketing Sandringham

In a bid to lift living standards across the country, the New Zealand Government has released new insulation regulations to ensure Kiwis are happy and healthy within their homes.

As a property owner or landlord, you must stay on top of the latest guidelines to ensure you’re playing by the rules and keeping tenants happy.

What are the new requirements?

From July 1 2019, all rental properties, including private rentals, must have underfloor and ceiling insulation that meets the standard regulations. Wall insulation is not compulsory.

The new insulation regulations apply to any residential rental property covered by the Residential Tenancies Act.

How to know if action or upgrading is required?

Insulation is measured by the R-value and how well it resists heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. Knowing and understanding what course of action is needed depends on when your current insulation was installed or whether you are without insulation.

If ceiling and underfloor insulation was installed in your rental property before July 2016, you must be able to prove that current insulation is in a reasonable condition and achieved the minimum R-value upon installation. Minimum R-values are as follows:

Timber-framed homes:

  • Ceiling: R 1.9
  • Underfloor: R 0.9

Masonry homes:

  • Ceiling R 1.5
  • Underfloor R 0.9

If you are able to prove that your insulation is in good condition, an upgrade may not be needed. However, if any part of existing insulation fails to meet these standards, it must be replaced in line with the new regulations.

If there is no existing insulation in your property, or it was installed after 1 July 2016, you must meet the minimum insulation requirements as outlined below. The R-value will vary depending on which part of New Zealand your property is located; zone 1 & 2 or 3. Zone 1 & 2 includes the whole North Island (excluding Central Plateau), while zone 3 consists of the South Island and Central Plateau.

Zone 1 & 2Zone 3
CeilingR 2.9R 3.3
UnderfloorR 1.3R 1.3

Rental properties below these levels of insulation must be upgraded to meet the new regulations. However, where there are multiple levels of insulation in good condition, these may be combined to meet sufficient R-values.

How to assess current insulation

A visual test performed by landlords/property owners is all it takes to check the condition of existing insulation. These will be found in roof spaces and under suspended floors.

Before conducting the observation, you must make the following considerations:

  • Make sure the area is safe before entering. This involves wearing safety equipment such as gloves, dust mask and protective eyewear, and ensuring the floor beneath is stable.
  • Turn power off at the mains when entering a subfloor with foil insulation. This will reduce the risk of electrocution.
  • Ensure someone is on hand to assist if help is needed.

Where there is any doubt as to whether insulation complies with the minimum performance requirements, the landlord or tenant may wish to ask a reputable insulation installer to make an assessment.

When choosing professional evaluation, ask for written information to support the insulation statement. This document includes information about the level of insulation and is a necessity for all new tenancy agreements, helping tenants make an informed decision before moving in.

Insulation is measured by the R-value and how well it resists heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

What does it cost to install insulation?

The cost of installing insulation depends on size, shape and location of the property. It’s important to receive quotes from a number of providers before locking down on a deal. However, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (ECCA) estimates that the average cost of paying a professional installer to put in both floor and ceiling insulation is roughly $3,400 excluding GST for a 96m2 property.

Generally, insulation is installed within a day, but this varies from provider to provider, To ensure you meet the new regulations; it pays to arrange for installation as soon as possible.

What if regulations aren’t met?

Landlords or property owners who have failed to meet insulation requirements by July 1 2019 will be in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). This may involve paying a penalty up to $4,000, which is usually paid to the tenant. Landlords who fail to comply even after paying penalties will face further disciplinary action. It’s also important to note that landlords who have more than one tenancy can face separate damages for each property that doesn’t meet regulations.

Ensuring you make a conscious effort to get your property up to speed with the latest regulations is a surefire way to avoid fines and keep your tenants safe and warm.

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