Landlords urged to take up insulation subsidy

Landlords with low-income tenants should get in early to take advantage of insulation grants before insulation in rental homes becomes mandatory, according to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

All rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation to the required standard by 1 July 2019, where it is practical, under recent tenancy law changes.

Recent tenancy law changes - Tenancy Services website

EECA’s GM Residential Robert Linterman says at least 20,000 insulation grants are available over the next 18 months under the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme. 

“There are a limited number of government grants and eligible landlords who delay taking them up will end up paying the full cost of insulation.”

To qualify for a grant, tenants must have a Community Services Card, or a low income and health issues related to cold, damp housing, Mr Linterman says.

Landlords and other homeowners who aren’t eligible for a grant may be able to add the cost of insulation to their rates and pay it back over about nine years, Mr Linterman says, with about ten councils around New Zealand, including Auckland and Wellington, offering the service.

“Insulating rentals brings some clear benefits to landlords, as well as tenants.  Warm, dry rental homes need less maintenance than damp ones, and are more likely to attract long-term tenants.”

EECA runs an audit programme for Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes and council schemes, giving landlords assurance they are getting a quality product and installation.

Mr Linterman says landlords could install insulation themselves but there are safety risks and installers need to be sure they are meeting the newly-revised New Zealand Standard, NZS 4246:2016  Energy Efficiency – Installing Bulk Thermal Insulation in Residential Buildings.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has made NZS 4246:2016 freely available on the Tenancy Services website.

Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Manager Steve Watson says all landlords must provide a statement about the location, type and condition of the current insulation on any tenancy agreement made since 1 July 2016, with a penalty of up to $500 for failing to comply.  A template statement appears on the Residential Tenancy Agreement form on the Tenancy Services website.

“Landlords should also get in early if they need to install or upgrade insulation to the required standard, to avoid a pre-deadline rush.  There are only two summers left, and you may be liable for a penalty of up to $4,000 for missing the 1 July 2019 deadline,” Mr Watson says.

For more information:

Eligibility for Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes - Energywise website

The new tenancy insulation regulations - Tenancy Services website