Deadline extended for healthy homes standards compliance statement

The deadline for landlords providing a compliance statement for the healthy homes standards has been extended from 1 July 2020 to 1 December 2020.

The compliance statement is an addition to tenancy agreements that provides detailed information about how a property meets the healthy homes standards. It helps tenants to see how their landlord is working towards being compliant.

The healthy homes standards became law on 1 July 2019. The standards require landlords to meet new rules in relation to heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping.

The deadline was extended in response to COVID-19, which impacted landlords’ ability to access their properties and allow tradespeople to carry out inspections required to complete the compliance statement.

The extended deadline will not affect any of the dates by which rental properties have to comply with the healthy homes standards. The delayed deadline refers only to the inclusion of a detailed statement of current compliance. The remaining deadlines are not being changed.

The compliance timeline for the healthy homes standards remains the same:

  • 1 July 2021 – private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply with the healthy homes standards within 90 days of any new tenancy.
  • 1 July 2021 – all boarding houses must comply with the healthy homes standards.
  • 1 July 2023 – all Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) houses and registered Community Housing Provider houses must comply with the healthy homes standards.
  •  1 July 2024 – all rental homes must comply with the healthy home standards.

The template for landlords to use for their healthy homes standards compliance statement is available on this website. [PDF, 766 KB]

Tenancy Services will continue to produce information and tools to assist landlords to comply with the healthy homes standards.

The free downloadable residential tenancy agreement template and boarding house agreement templates will also be updated and published before 1 December 2020.

For more information call our office during business hours.

Alert Level 2 Guidance for Landlords and Tenants

On 14 May 2020, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2.

What will change at Alert Level 2?

  • Tenants are able to move to a new rental property. Removal companies can assist with moving, with some conditions: movers will have to comply with physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning guidance and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.
  • Friends and family can help tenants move. If they are well known to the tenant, physical distancing procedures are not required. However, we recommend that personal hygiene and surface cleaning procedures are still adhered to and that those moving record the names and contact details of people who helped.
  • In-person inspections of occupied or vacant rental properties can take place. Landlords and tenants should adhere to physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning guidance and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.
  • Tenants cannot unreasonably refuse an inspection, however for those who are considered at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, that could be reasonable grounds for refusal. The list of people at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 can be found on the Ministry of Health website  .
  • Maintenance can be undertaken. Physical distancing and hygiene guidance should be followed when inside homes, including surface cleaning on the area that is being worked on. Records should be kept for contact tracing purposes.
  • Open homes are permitted under Alert Level 2 with the tenant’s consent as long as the guidance on physical distancing, personal hygiene and surface cleaning for Alert Level 2 is observed. Records should be kept for contact tracing purposes.
  • The Real Estate Authority has developed guidance for in-person inspections for properties for sale. These guidelines should be applied to rental viewings. Conducting real estate business during COVID-19 alert level 2 (Real Estate Authority)  

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has information on what it means for landlords and tenants to move from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2.

Landlords and property managers can find up-to-date information for businesses on the business.govt.nz website  .

More information on safe practices at Alert Level 2 is available on the WorkSafe website  .

Alert Level 3 Guidance for Landlords and Tenants

The country has now moved into Alert Level 3. Find out what this new level means for owners and tenants. If you have any questions regarding your own rental property, please contact our team directly.

What will change at Alert Level 3?

  • Tenants are allowed to move to a new house and moving companies will be able to help tenants. Movers will have to adhere to physical distancing rules and should keep records for contact tracing purposes.
  • Routine inspections of rental properties cannot take place unless it is an emergency situation, such as a landlord needing to confirm that emergency maintenance is required.
  • Maintenance can only occur in emergencies or with tenant approval. This might include plumbers, electricians and tradespeople who can work on, and inside rental properties.
  • We recommend landlords arrange for professional services to clean or undertake maintenance of their vacant rental property.
  • Open homes where multiple people view a property cannot take place.
  • In-person viewings for rental properties can take place under Alert Level 3 with some restrictions. If the property is tenanted, landlords will need approval from the tenants and viewings should only occur when the tenants are not on the property.
  • During viewings, physical distance should be maintained and contact with surfaces kept at a minimum. Anything that is touched should be wiped with disinfectant. In-person viewings should be limited to two per day per property.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has further information on what it means for landlords and tenants to move from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3.

Landlords and property managers can find up-to-date information for businesses on the business.govt.nz website  .

More information on safe practices at Alert Level 3 is available on the WorkSafe website.  

COVID-19 – Rent Increase Freeze & Tenancy Terminations

Information on the rent increase freeze and tenancy termination regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For general information on COVID-19 visit the government’s central website.

On 23 March 2020, the Government announced a freeze of rent increases and an extension of no-cause terminations. This has been applied as law through the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act, which came into effect on 26 March 2020.

These measures will support New Zealanders to stay in their rental properties with a six-month freeze on residential rent increases and increased protection from having their tenancies terminated.

The key changes for landlords and tenants to be aware of are:

  • There is now a freeze on rent increases.
  • A rent increase notice from a landlord will not have the effect of increasing a tenant’s rent, unless the rent increase has already taken effect.
  • Tenancies will not be terminated from 26 March, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances, regardless of when the notice was provided.
  • Tenants will still be able to terminate their tenancy as normal.
  • Tenants will have the ability to revoke termination notices that they have already given, in case they need to stay in the tenancy.

The timeframes for the new measures are:

  • The measures took effect on 26 March 2020.
  • The rent freeze applies for an initial period of six months (to 26 September 2020, unless extended).
  • The protections against terminations will apply for an initial period of three months (to 25 June 2020, unless extended).
  • At the end of both initial periods, the Government will evaluate whether they need to be extended.

Importantly, where a tenant has symptoms of COVID-19, or is confirmed as positive, this is not grounds for a landlord to terminate a tenancy. Nor is a tenant required to notify their landlord if they test positive for COVID-19. However, we encourage tenants to advise the landlord if the landlord needs to attend the property while the tenant is self-isolating, for example, if the landlord needs to undertake urgent repairs at the property.

For full information on the new measures and what they mean for landlords and tenants, please visit:

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development COVID-19 information page  

The Minister’s announcement on the Beehive website  

 

Property Rental: Repairs and damages

If something gets damaged in a rental property or needs repairing, it’s important to know who’s responsible for fixing and paying for the problem.

Tenants must tell the landlord straight away if they are aware that something needs to be repaired or maintained, no matter how it happened or who caused the damage.  

An important point to note, the tenant is not responsible for repairs or damage arising from burglaries, natural events (such as storms, floods, and earthquakes), or fair wear and tear.

Tenants need to tell the landlord if they know of any damage or need for repairs. If the tenant does not notify the landlord as soon as possible the landlord may be able to claim some of the costs of repairing the damage from the tenant if it gets worse.

If a landlord or their property manager damages a tenant’s goods, the tenant can ask them to repair those goods or to pay the cost of replacement or repair.

Intentional damage

If a tenant (or their invited guests) intentionally damage the landlord’s property, the tenant must tell the landlord. The landlord can ask the tenant to repair the damage or to pay the cost of replacement or repair.

Careless damage

On 27 August 2019, new legislation took effect, which will affect tenants’ liability for damage.

If tenants or their guests carelessly damage a rental property, they are liable for the cost of the damage up to four weeks’ rent or the landlord’s insurance excess (if applicable), whichever is lower.

Tenants on income-related rents will be liable for careless damage up to four weeks’ market rent or the insurance excess (if applicable), whichever is lower.

Landlords can’t ask for or accept more than that limit.

Insurance companies can’t chase tenants on the landlord’s behalf for the cost of repairs for careless damage.

If the landlord and tenant can’t agree who should pay, either can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal.

If any damage occurs, it is for the landlord to prove that the damage is not fair wear and tear. Following this, the tenant must prove that the damage was careless (and not intentional). You should support your application by including copies of:

  • relevant insurance policies
  • photos of the damage
  • receipts or quotes for repair

If the state of disrepair is likely to cause injury to people or property, a tenant can have repair work done and ask the landlord to pay them for it. A landlord must also pay the tenant back for any urgent repair work the tenant had to have done, as long as the tenant made reasonable attempts to let the landlord know first.

What About Fair Wear and Tear

Fair wear and tear refers to the gradual deterioration of things that are used regularly in a property when people live in it.

A tenant is not responsible for normal fair wear and tear to the property or any chattels provided by the landlord when they use them normally. The tenant is responsible for any intentional or careless damage.

An example of this would be where a stove element wears out from normal cooking. This is fair wear and tear. However, if the stove was being used to heat the kitchen and stopped working properly, this would not be considered normal use.

Examples of what is usually considered fair wear and tear are:

  • flooring getting worn
  • taps and washers in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry wearing out or leaking

 Examples of what is not normally considered fair wear and tear are:

  • burn marks or drink stains on the carpet
  • drawing on wallpaper.

For more information please call our office to discuss with our team or visit Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2019

 

Proposed changes to NZ Residential Tenancies Act

Proposed changes to NZ Residential Tenancies Act blog

The long-awaited overhaul of tenancy laws was announced on Sunday.  Some of the key proposed changes to NZ Residential Tenancies Act include:

  • double the threshold for damages claims at the Tenancy Tribunal,
  • renters can do more to change properties,
  • anonymised Tenancy Tribunal rulings,
  • an end to no-cause evictions,
  • a ban on rental bidding.
  • limiting rent rises to once-yearly, up from six months.

The new laws, expected to be passed by Parliament in the new year, will automatically now assume that a ‘periodic tenancy’ will begin at the end of a fixed term lease. So if a lease ends after 12 months, it is assumed that the tenant will stay on a “periodic” (open-ended) tenancy from there on in, without needing to sign another fixed term agreement. Landlords can ask tenants to go onto a new fixed-term agreement, but the tenant has to agree.

Landlords will not be able to end a periodic agreement except for specific reasons such as selling the house, doing major renovations, three complaints of anti-social behaviour or more than three instances of rent being paid more than five days late over a 90 day period.

Renters who enter into a dispute with landlords and are successful in defending a claim or having their rights upheld, will now have their identities removed from tenancy tribunal decisions, if they choose, before the determinations are given. This is designed to protect tenants from being later penalised for being difficult by a potential future landlord. The same anonymised option will apply to landlords 

Landlords who do not comply with the Residential Tenancy Act will now be liable for payouts from the Tenancy Tribunal of up to $100,000 up from $50,000. Previously damages over $50,0000 had to go to the district court. The regulator, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment will also be able to make a single application against a landlord over a number of properties.

Landlords will not be able to able to start a bidding process for new rentals, however, if prospective tenants want to offer above the asking price, they will still be allowed to initiate a higher rent offer, which the landlord will be allowed to accept.

Landlords will also have to provide records proving that their homes meet healthy homes standards if the tenant requests them.

Landlords will also not be able to refuse requests for small changes to fittings that tenants wish to make that can be easily removed at the end of a tenancy. These could include fittings as a baby gates, baby proofing, curtains and installing dishwashers and washing machines.

If a tenancy is ended for a valid reason, such as a landlord selling a house, the landlord will now need to provide 63 days of notice – up from 42.

We will continue with updates about these changes as more information comes to hand.  If you have any questions please call our office to discuss.

Rental Properties Needed

Connect Realty Property Managers

Summer is on our doorstep and once again the Bay is ready for a busy time. We have already seen the arrival of cruise ships this month, and these will continue to grace our shores for the summer. This means lots of extra holidaymakers out and about enjoying our stunning region.

Besides holidaymakers, the Bay is still attracting lots of new residents to our region.  With a gorgeous climate, stunning white-sand beaches, and all the buzz you find in a city, who wouldn’t want to live here.

As a result of the continued influx of new couples and families, rental properties are still in very short supply.  In most cases, we are getting several applications as soon as they are placed on the internet, and some do not even get to the internet as we have tenants on our books waiting.  So please, if you do know someone wanting to rent out their homes send them our way.

We are looking for furnished or unfurnished houses, units and apartments in the Tauranga, Papamoa and Mount areas.

We will strive to provide a property management service of unbeatable quality and superior service so much so, we offer 100% money back guarantee after the first 3 months of management.

  • We solely specialise in property management
  • We are a boutique agency and offer personal service
  • Over 30 years of local knowledge of the area
  • Free appraisals and advice on where and what to buy
  • Advertising properties on 4 websites exposing it to many prospective tenants
  • Where necessary we feature properties on trade me to attract more tenants at no extra cost
  • Strong tenant selection credit and reference checking of tenants.
  • A team of dedicated contractors working for us at competitive rates for any maintenance issues or improvements.
  • Project management of any maintenance and refurbishment on a tenants behalf
  • Video and photos on all ingoing reports
  • 3 Monthly inspections with reports
  • You will be working with an experienced owner-operated with a vested interest to see the business grow and make sure clients are happy with our service

So call our team today to find our more.

 

Spring Property Maintenance

Swimming Pool

With the arrival and spring and summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to get your investment property looking its best, including lawns and gardens and any necessary repair work to outside areas. Property maintenance is not just about cleaning up, it is also time to be prudent about ensuring your investment property is meeting all the necessary safety standards according to the building code and Council regulations – particularly in relation to fencing around pools, and laws about pergolas and decks.

A recent article in the local paper stated that Water Safety New Zealand was disappointed by current attitudes towards fencing compliance, with many pool owners failing standards because they were more concerned with the look of their backyard. The article said:

“The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act is clear – all private outdoor pools must be fenced unless the walls of the pool are more than 1.2m above the ground, or the maximum depth is 400mm or less.

The fence must surround the area immediately around the pool only. Gates should close and latch automatically.

Older swimming pools are also required to adhere to the current standards…the most common reasons pool fences failed compliance were because they were not high enough, had gaps or gates that were not self-latching.”

The purpose of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act is to prevent young children from drowning, something seen as crucial even if you do not have children at your home.

Another area where you need to be prudent is building consents.  As a result of the Christchurch earthquake, new building codes were introduced for decks, pergolas and other additions to your property. These new standards aim to protect residents and the public from ‘unsafe’ building practices. For your Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa property please see the Tauranga City Council guidelines which outline when a consent is needed.

If you have any questions relating to this blog please feel free to phone on 0800 333 221, as your Property Managers we are more than happy to give advice or put you in contact with the correct agency.

Customer Service Key To Successful Property Managers

A recent article in ‘news.com.au’ highlighted the importance of consumer relationships and customer service in the real estate industry. While Australia is weathering a property downturn, their Real Estate Institute revealed that hard work and maintaining a high reputation is helping property managers through a difficult period.

A survey sent out to institute members showed that there was a real focus on customer service including follow-up, connecting with people and establishing a personal and agency reputation.

This focus had improved their reputation for honesty, integrity, professionalism, a community focus and local knowledge.

Key skills were hard work, self-drive and extended working hours and taking the time to build relationships in their community.

We at Connect Realty understand the importance of our relationship with you the client, and our focus is to provide you with “superior” customer service. As property managers, we aim to take all the stress away for both landlords and tenants with renting a property and make sure everything runs smoothly and seamlessly.

Also, as a locally owned and operated business we have a wealth of local knowledge, combined with extensive real estate and property management experience. Through this experience and local knowledge, we have developed an intuitive understanding of what you require and we aim to build a long-lasting relationship with you.

Besides an up-to-date website, Facebook page and a free-phone number, we also provide our mobile number for an easy point of contact. With our professional efficiency, we will go out of our way to talk or meet with you at all times of the day.

As the Australian Real Estate Institute highlighted, hard work and strong communication with clients are key to success, and they are the cornerstones of our business that we will continue to focus on in the future.

Why Use Property Managers

It has been an interesting year for landlords with new legislation and differing housing markets across the country.  Given the uncertainties that exist for property investors, there is even more reason to utilise experienced local property managers when buying an investment property. Here are some key reasons why you should choose Connect Realty as your Tauranga property manager:

  1. We know the area well.  With our local Tauranga knowledge and many years of property experience, we can ensure you are getting the best return for your investment.
  2. We specialise in property, we know and understand the new legislation and have access to all the necessary documentation that is required for both landlords and tenants.
  3. We offer free appraisals and advice on where and what to buy.
  4. We market your property for you, taking away the stress of dealing with internet listing issues and enquiries.
  5. We have one flat rate that includes everything, with no hidden costs or commissions.
  6. With market-leading software systems, we deliver up to the minute reporting.
  7. We inspect the property every three months and provide comprehensive inspection reports so you know exactly what state your property is in.
  8. We are the main contact for both tenants and landlords.  This helps keep the line of communication open.
  9. As well as regular property inspections, we also organise all maintenance and repairs with a team of dedicated contractors working for us at competitive rates.
  10. We strive to provide you with a property management service of unbeatable quality, and we are happy to offer a 100% money-back guarantee if you are not happy after the first three months of management.

If you have a property you would like to rent we would love to hear from you.