Responsibility for healthy homes

Healthier rental homes are at the forefront of public consciousness these days – thanks to the ongoing push for a “Warrant of Fitness” for rental properties. Both the Labour Party and the Green Party are promoting Bills which would enforce minimum standards in rental properties. Meanwhile, the Government’s Residential Tenancy Amendment Bill, which features insulation and smoke alarm requirements, is currently making its way through Parliament. Under the RTA Bill requirements, landlords will have an obligation to have installed smoke alarms by July 1. Insulation will have to be installed in social housing from July 1 this year, but landlords will have until July 1, 2019, to install it in other rental properties. Some exemptions where it is not practical to install insulation will apply. These requirements, however, have nothing to do with the Health and Safety at Work Act and WorkSafe New Zealand will not investigate breaches of these obligations. Under the RTA Bill, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will have new powers to investigate and prosecute landlords for breaking tenancy laws, particularly where there is risk to the health and safety of tenants. Tenants can also take health and safety concerns to the Tenancy Tribunal. When it comes to smoke alarms and fires, MBIE says landlords should have some form of insurance cover for their rental properties. MBIE also recommends they talk to their insurer to be clear about landlord and tenant obligations in this area.

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