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New tenancy laws a step closer

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Changes to New Zealand’s tenancy laws requiring all tenanted properties to have smoke alarms and to be insulated passed unanimously through the committee stages of Parliament today.

Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith said the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill will require all rental properties to have smoke alarms by 1 July 2016 and be insulated by 1 July 2019.

"This practical Bill to make homes warmer and safer without imposing excessive costs will save lives and improve the health of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders," Dr Smith says.

The Bill is expected to cover the 120,000 rental properties which do not have smoke alarms and 180,000 that are uninsulated, as well as improving the enforcement of existing regulations around heating, dampness, electrical safety, plumbing, sanitation and ventilation.

"I am not surprised Opposition parties have criticised the Bill for not going far enough. The argument that it should be extended into a full warrant of fitness ignores the extra $100 million per year administrative cost. Nor do we think measures such as visibility strips on all windows - while good things - should be compulsory," Dr Smith says.

"While this Bill requires all rental homes to be insulated, and that all new insulation work should be to the 2008 standard, we do not accept it makes economic sense for homes insulated to earlier standards to be required to replace it if is still in reasonable repair and functioning properly. The Opposition argument that we should have no regard for costs is mistaken and is inconsistent with the approach taken to double glazing and earthquake standards.

"This Government has a proud record of practical activism in making homes healthier and safer. Our first step was insulating 30,000 State houses, and then providing Warm Up New Zealand grants for a further 290,000 homes. This Bill will require a further 180,000 rental homes to be insulated by 1 July 2019 - a total of 510,000. This compares to just 50,000 homes insulated by the previous Labour government.

"Other provisions in the Bill cover faster turnaround of tenancy abandonment, stronger measures to prevent retaliatory notices against tenants for raising quality issues and a new requirement for landlords to disclose insulation levels.

"This Bill is a package of detailed and practical measures which will make New Zealand properties warmer, drier and safer. My ambition is to have the Bill through its final third reading early in June."

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