What you need to know about the new tenancy laws

For rent sign

Renting a home is an extremely popular way to live here in New Zealand. It's often cheaper than buying, it has a certain level of flexibility and also acts as a good way to introduce young Kiwis to their first taste of real freedom. In fact, according to Statistics New Zealand, there were over 450,000 renting households in 2013.

However, there have been concerns that some New Zealand homes aren't quite up to scratch when it comes to health and safety. As a result, a fresh bill has been passed creating some new obligations for both the property investors and their tenants. Here's what you need to know.

No smoke without fire

According to the New Zealand Fire Service, there are typically over 6,000 residential property fires every year, ranging from small incidents to full-blown disasters. One of the primary defences against perishing in one of these infernos is the humble smoke alarm, but until recently the laws regarding them were a little bit fast and loose.

However, that has now changed. Under the new Bill, all rental properties are required to have a long-life smoke alarm installed as of July 1st, and often multiple across a larger home. If you are a landlord, this is your responsibility, but it is your tenant's job to ensure that the batteries are replaced. There is also a raft of new legislation intended to make the installation process easier, such as allowing landlords free entry to install these alarms (much like repairs and maintenance) and making it easier for tenants to dispute when the standards are not being upheld.

Staying high and dry

Nobody wants to have to live somewhere damp and cold, even if we are now heading out of winter. A lack of insulation in New Zealand houses has been a bugbear of the construction industry for years, without there being any mandate in place to require this energy-saving and health-protecting feature in a home.

The new Bill is also changing that, making it a requirement for all homes to be installed with a minimum level of insulation by 1 July 2019. There are some exemptions, but in general landlords will now be expected to not only install this feature, but also to declare what level of insulation a particular property has to their tenants before the contract is signed.

Overall, this Bill is designed to make homes healthier, safer and more dry for the renting population of New Zealand. Of course, if you're getting sick of living in a rental and are keen to get onto the property ladder yourself, you can always come to Squirrel to find out how we can help you with your first home loan. Sound good? Get in touch with us today!