The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill

Property

This bill was aimed at addressing the issue of cold, damp rental accommodation in New Zealand. Find out the current status of this bill and what it would mean for landlords and tenants.

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill was a bill drafted by Labour’s Phil Tywford aimed at addressing the issue of cold, damp rental accommodation in New Zealand.

It is estimated that only 5% of private rental houses in this country have been insulated.  Under this bill, Landlords would need to ensure that their properties meet the minimum standards of heating and insulation.

Part 1 of the bill proposes to amend the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act 2000.  It is intended that the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority will be responsible for setting these standards.  The EECA must describe what constitutes adequate methods of heating, insulation, ventilation, drainage, draft stopping and acceptable indoor temperatures, along with the methods of measuring these factors.

The second part of the bill proposes to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 1996 by requiring every new tenancy agreement to include a declaration that the house meets the minimum standards prescribed by the EECA.  For agreements already in existence, Landlords will have 5 years from the date the new standards are published by the EECA to comply.

Despite being described as sensible and pragmatic by the New Zealand Property Investors Federation, Twyford’s bill failed to gain support from the Government and was consequently unsuccessful at its first Select Committee reading in [March 2015].  The Government’s main criticism centred around the bill’s “unintended consequence or threat to housing supply.  It contends that, due to design restructure, a significant number of houses will never be able to be insulated and will fail to meet the standards.  The flow on effect from that will be that rental housing stock will decrease and rents will increase.

In October 2015 the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) 2015 was drawn from the ballot at Parliament, attracting criticism from the Speaker, Hon David Carter. He expressed concern that a bill so similar in substance to one previously ousted be accepted for the ballot in contradiction of Parliament’s Standing Order 264. However, it was acknowledged that as it has been drawn, the No 2 bill must now be dealt with.  It remains to be seen whether this version will make it into New Zealand law books.

If you would like further information on this bill, or require advice on any other tenancy matter, please contact a member of our Property Team.

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