Out in the cold

Insulation installers, (Front) Alessio Mastrapasqua, (back left) Teray Gonzalez and Facundo Gonzalez, hard at work retro-fitting a Papamoa property with underfloor insulation. Photo: John Borren.

Many landlords will be left out in the cold and facing big fines after leaving it too late to meet new insulation standards.

Insulation companies in the Bay of Plenty are under massive pressure to get all rentals up to standard by the end of the month. They say, they simply won’t be able to meet demand and many have left it too late.

A landlord who has not installed ceiling and floor insulation “where reasonably practicable” will be in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act from July 1.

Landlords who fail to comply with the regulations may be liable for a penalty of up to $4000.

Smart Energy Solutions director Paul Thomson says there is no way the company will be able to insulate all its clients’ rental homes before the upcoming deadline.

“The whole of the country has gone ballistic, there has been a date in the future that everyone forgot about, sat on their hands and suddenly it’s upon us,” says Paul.

The Insulation Company BOP operations manager Carl Dickens agrees that “if someone was to come for a building assessment now, there is no way they could have their insulation put in before the deadline.

“This month it’s just gone absolutely bonkers and people expect it to be done overnight.”

Paul thinks property management companies have been more organised than private landlords.

“Property managers live and breathe it day-to-day, they have been a lot more proactive. We are finding there are a lot of self-managed landlords that are only coming on board now.

“These landlords have been slower because it’s at the back of their minds, and they don’t realise you have to get this done or it's going to cost a lot more than the insulation.”

Carl points out that some landlords also aren’t aware of the current demand for insulation installation prior to the deadline.

 “The landlords are the ones that are being a little bit more demanding, expecting things done quickly, but they have had three years to comply with these new standards.

“They don’t realise that we are not just catering for them, we are catering to all the new builds out their too.”

Insultech Insulation Waikato/BOP regional customer services manager Loxley Evans says landlords contacted her at the end of last month wanting to book in rental assessments for their multiple properties.

“I just work all the time, I can’t keep up. My phones always going, I’m always emailing and working till midnight.

“Most of these people are landlords calling to book in an assessment, so they are just getting on board.”

Loxely says the company ‘won’t be turning anyone away’ and will work with landlords to get them compliant as soon as possible.

Smart Energy Solutions will be issuing notes to landlords who won’t have their houses insulated on time to the reduce risk of penalisation.

These notes will confirm that the landlords have paid a deposit to the company and have committed to having their house insulated by a specific date.

Paul thinks the proof of financial commitment will decrease the likelihood of landlords being fined by Tenancy Tribunal.

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment acting national manager of tenancy and compliance investigations team Peter Hackshaw says the Residential Tenacies Act does not allow for extensions.

 “To allow an extension would be unfair to those landlords who have acted in time and have done the right thing.

“Landlords have had ample time and information to get the required work done, and failing to comply is not only unlawful, it also exposes tenants to potential harm by not having a home that is warm and dry enough during the winter months.”

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