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23 Jan

NZ Landlords: Rental property changes you need to know about

Do you own a rental property, or are you thinking about becoming a landlord? If so, there are some changes on the horizon you need to know about — all to do with creating healthy homes for New Zealanders.

NZ Landlords: Rental property changes you need to know about

Introducing the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill

Last month, the government passed the new Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill which requires rental properties to be warm, dry and well ventilated.

This new law means that any new tenancy from 1 July 2019 must be properly insulated and/or contain a heating source to make the home warm and dry. And by 2024 it'll apply to all tenancies.

According to Housing Minister Phil Twyford, "This law enables the Government to set standards for rental housing quality. The Healthy Homes standards will cover heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, drainage and moisture. Many landlords will already meet these standards and will not have to change anything. For those that need to upgrade their properties, government grants for installing heating and insulation will be available."

Seems like it's a win-win — great for tenants and there's some help available for landlords.

But some people think it'll put even more pressure on the rental market, possibly pushing up prices. Seriously though, isn't it about time rental property stock improved? And what does it cost to insulate or put in a heat pump? The numbers being touted range from $3-10k.

Yes, that's a bit of a sting, but I'd say it's short-term pain for long-term gain. Particularly if you install insulation, your ongoing maintenance costs should reduce (paint jobs will last longer, you shouldn't have any mould issues etc.) and you're adding value to your home.

Is there a Rental Warrant of Fitness on the horizon?

Wellington City Council is currently testing out a rental WoF. At the moment it's voluntary and there have been mixed reviews with some landlords saying it's way too tough.

The WoF assessment checks the areas of the house/apartment that impact basic health and safety as well as energy efficiency. Things like hot and cold running water, adequate insulation and heating, weather-tightness, and working smoke alarms.

Wondering how your rental property would stack up? Take a look at the Wellington Rental Housing WoF Checklist and see how you'd fair. There's a strong possibility schemes like this one could be rolled out around the country, either at a national level or driven by individual city councils.

Looking after your rental investment

For years, property has been seen as a rock solid 'Ma & Pa' investment. But, at the end of the day, a rental property is an investment, and all investments have their ups and downs. Conditions change over time — too many renters, not enough renters; P contaminations; loan to value ratios rising and falling; and legislation changes — it's all just par for the course. And the great thing about the property market to date is that property prices keep going up over time.

But at the end of the day, the numbers need to stack up for you. It seems prudent to make sure your rental property is up to scratch as a healthy home though. Why? Because that way it's a more attractive proposition to both renters (now) and eventually buyers (future). 

And if you can get some help from the government to make the upgrades, all the better!

Rodney Fong is a Licensed Salesperson and Auctioneer working with clients throughout Tauranga, Mt Maunganui and Papamoa.

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