Landlords patting themselves on the back for having insulated their houses before the July 1 deadline need to be aware that the new Healthy Homes standards may require significant further investment over the next two years.
Bayleys in the North property manager Shona Mackinnon says that among her portfolio of more than 200 properties, approximately a quarter had to be brought up to the 2019 standard, but half will require further investment, due to new standards due to be implemented by July 1, 2021.
The new standard will require rental properties to have fixed heating that can heat a room to 18C, as well as extraction fans in the kitchen and bathroom, draft stopping where air may get through window cracks, a ground moisture barrier and drainage where there is water under the house.
“We are encouraging our landlords to get this work done now, as there may be problems down the track if many property owners leave it to the last minute. Heating prices could go up or there could be shortage of labour to install it.
“For the July 2019 standards, we had great notice from Tenancy Services and we have been working with our property owners since 2016 and have managed the whole process for them.
“However, July 2021 is not a long timeframe for all the work that has to go into the Healthy Homes standards, including producing an insulation statement for the floor, walls and roof from a surveyor.”
This view is echoed by Premier Insulation Rodney owner Mike Murray, who says rental property owners in the district were generally prompt at meeting the 2019 standards, but could be caught out by the Healthy Homes requirements.
“Most of the work we have done will already meet the new standards, but the underfloor barrier could catch a few and we have been making people aware of that as we do retrofitting work,” Mike says.
Property manager Shona says Bayleys monitors the rent prices of properties in the district on a daily basis, and she has not seen a market price increase in the last two years, but that is set to change.
“A last-minute rush of remedial work will most likely bring in a wave of rental price reviews. The motorway will also likely affect prices, as Warkworth will increasingly be seen as a viable commuter town.”
Shona points out that although a $4000 fine for not meeting the standards is a hefty deterrent for landlords, in order to be caught out they would actually have to be taken to the tenancy tribunal by a tenant.
“Then when that tenant applies for a new house in six months it will show on their record that they have taken a landlord to the tribunal, and they may not get the house,”she says.
“It’s a concern and it’s unfair because tenants have the right to live in a home that is dry and warm. I make no bones about the fact that we won’t tenant a house if it’s not up to standard.”