The State of Housing and Rental Regulations in New Zealand

10 October 2016

IT’S ON THE HOUSE - Insights and advice for property investors & home owners.

 

The State of Housing and Rental Regulations in New Zealand

Issues relating to the housing industry are always an important topic for governments and councils, with a consistently high level of public interest. With house prices rising and greater numbers of people choosing to rent, it is becoming more and more important to regulate the industry to protect the involved parties. As such, new and updated laws are regularly discussed, proposed and passed in New Zealand, many of which can drastically affect both landlords and tenants. This constant updating of the law may seem a little confusing at times, so we've created a quick guide to the current state of regulations and how they can affect landlords and tenants.

 

What are some of the most important existing regulations that landlords should be aware of?

There have been a number of relatively recent changes to the law. The Residential Tenancies Act of 1986 changed and updated a lot of laws. Many of these changes were made in the interest of tenants, whose rights were not, many felt, sufficiently protected by the previous laws.

In the last few years there have also been several important changes. In 2010 a number of updates were made to the Residential Tenancies Act. One of the most important changes was the addition of unlawful acts, like tampering with water, electricity or gas supplies. Also, if a landlord leaves the country for a period greater than 21 consecutive days, they must appoint an agent based in New Zealand. Clarification of how landlords can deal with/dispose of abandoned items was also added.

Even more recently, a further set of updates to the Residential Tenancies Act were put into effect in July 2016. Of particular significance were the changes to rules about insulating homes. Most properties must now be fitted with insulation by July 2019. This will affect many landlords whose properties require large renovations to meet standards. Further to this change, smoke alarms must be fitted by the landlord. Also, tenants may now take landlords to a tribunal without the threat of eviction, and landlords can be prosecuted easier for not following regulations, especially in cases where tenant health is at risk. Other additions and more detail can be found via the government website for the 2010 legislations and the 2016 legislations.

 

Are there any noteworthy regulations on the horizon?

There are likely to be lots more regulatory changes to keep track of in the coming months and years. Graeme Henderson, owner of the Auckland central Quinovic franchise, told us ‘one of the most significant is the proposed Healthy Homes Bill. If passed, this will require all suitable New Zealand properties to have mandatory minimum levels of insulation, heating and ventilation in an effort to make all homes safer and free from problems like chronic damp, mould and cold.’

There are also likely to be upcoming regulations on how to deal with the growing methamphetamine problem, specifically the cases of 'P Labs’ operating out of rented properties. These should be ready at some time in 2017.

 

Are any of the existing regulations often overlooked by landlords or tenants, and what are the potential consequences if they are?

Some private landlords have a bad reputation for things such as entering properties without giving proper notice, forcing rent increases outside of legal limits, and neglecting basic repairs like leaks and mould. Conversely, some tenants don't respect properties and cause damage or pay rent late.

In situations such as these, action can be taken to address the problem. If a tenant believes rules haven't been followed correctly, they can take a landlord to the Tenancy Tribunal and present a case against them. There is a potential for large fines to both landlords and tenants if laws are broken. Tenants may be evicted if they don't honour the rental agreement, and/or be ordered by the court to pay any money owed in rent or damages.

 

How can having a property manager help?

It is the job of a property manager to know the legislation so landlords don't have to worry about it. They will understand what is relevant to a particular property and when changes need to be made. A good manager will prevent problems from escalating to the tribunal stage and help maintain good relations between the landlord and tenant.

 

What do Quinovic specifically offer?

With over 25 years experience in the industry, Quinovic know the legislation inside-out. We know about recent changes to the law, and keep landlords informed about anything on the horizon. We use our knowledge and experience to look at every property individually and assess exactly which rules are significant. With offices all over the country, we have experience of how the laws apply in all regions, giving us an edge over smaller, local property managers. In the rare event that cases are taken to tribunal, we prepare a case thoroughly using evidence taken from the detailed property records that we keep for all clients.

 

In short, Quinovic take the worry away from landlords, giving them more time to focus on other things, while remaining confident that their properties are in safe hands.

If you have any questions or want advice about housing or rental legislation, talk to us.

 

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