Since 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation is compulsory in all rental homes, where it is reasonably practicable to install.

These requirements apply to all rental properties covered by the Residential Tenancies Act. This includes houses rented by Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) and registered Community Housing Providers.

Insulation must meet the correct standards and be installed safely. Wall insulation is not compulsory.

Landlords who don’t have the correct insulation installed, and don’t meet the criteria for an exception, are in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. They may be liable for exemplary damages of up to $7,200.

Find out if your rental property meets exception criteria

If tenants think their rental property doesn’t meet the insulation requirements, they should talk to their landlord first. If they can’t resolve the issue themselves, there are several options available, including mediation.

Visit Breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act to find out what to do next.

This page covers the current insulation requirements. The healthy homes standards include new requirements for insulation, which will take effect from 1 July 2021 up to 1 July 2024, depending on the type of rental property. Some insulation will need to be upgraded or replaced to meet the new healthy homes insulation standard.

More information about healthy homes standards

How to meet the current insulation regulations

Insulation is measured by R-value. R-values are a measure of resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

For more detail about the current insulation requirements, download the insulation requirements document [PDF, 1.9 MB].

If insulation was installed before July 2016

Insulation that was installed before July 2016 will meet the current requirements if:

  • it is in reasonable condition (e.g. no mould, dampness or gaps), and
  • it was at least the minimum R-value when it was installed.

For timber-framed homes:

  • Ceiling R 1.9
  • Underfloor R 0.9

For masonry homes:

  • Ceiling R 1.5
  • Underfloor R 0.9

These minimum R-values only apply until the healthy homes compliance date. After that, all insulation in rental homes must meet the new standard.

Healthy homes compliance dates

If any part of the existing insulation is not in reasonable condition, then the landlord must replace it with insulation that meets the new standard, as below.

If insulation was installed after 1 July 2016

New insulation in rental properties needs to meet minimum R-values. The minimum R-value depends on which part of the country the property is in:

Map of New Zealand climate zones

Minimum R-values for Zones 1 and 2:

  • Ceiling R 2.9
  • Underfloor R 1.3

Minimum R-values for Zone 3:

  • Ceiling R 3.3
  • Underfloor R 1.3

If there’s more than one layer of insulation their product R-values may be combined. All insulation must be in reasonable condition.

Insulation that doesn’t meet the regulations must be topped up or replaced. A professional insulation installer can advise you on the best way to meet the regulations.

Landlords must make all reasonable efforts to find out what insulation is in their rental property. Landlords can assess their insulation by:

  • physically looking in the ceiling cavity and underfloor area
  • hiring a professional to do an assessment
  • checking the council building file.

If you're not sure of the location, type and condition of the insulation, seek advice from a professional insulation installer. Ask for written information to support the insulation statement.

More about assessing insulation - Insulation requirements [PDF, 1.9 MB]

Checking and installing insulation safely

Meeting the New Zealand Standard

Insulation must be installed in accordance with New Zealand Standard NZS 4246:2016.

The standard explains the correct way to install insulation in an effective and safe way. It includes guidance on what safety clearances are required from downlights, chimney flues, roofing etc.

New Zealand Standard NZS 4246:2016 Energy efficiency – Installing bulk thermal insulation in residential buildings

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