Due to the design or construction constraints of some property types, it is sometimes either not physically possible to insulate or would require major renovations to do so.
Examples of types of properties that would meet exception criteria are:
- Apartments where there is a habitable space above and below the apartment
- Houses constructed on concrete slabs where it is not feasible to install underfloor insulation
- Houses with skillion roofs where there is no ceiling in place to install insulation above.
Installing insulation is not considered ‘reasonably practicable’ when an experienced professional insulation installer:
- Can’t access the location to install insulation without removing any cladding or lining, carrying out other substantial building work, or causing substantial damage to the property.
- Can’t install insulation without creating health or safety risks to people, when these risks are greater than the normal level of risk when installing insulation.
Where access to the ceiling or underfloor can be achieved by carrying out minor work (e.g. temporarily removing base boards from the exterior of the property to access the underfloor), the landlord is expected to do so.
If changes are made to an exempt property that then allows insulation to be fitted (for example a new roof), then it must be installed as soon as reasonably practicable.
Written confirmation of exception
If a landlord is in any doubt whether insulation can be installed in their rental property, they should consult an experienced professional insulation installer and, if needed, a builder.
If the experienced professional says insulating some areas is not reasonably practicable or not possible, the landlord must ask for written confirmation of the reasons to include in tenancy agreements.
It is not enough for a landlord to simply claim that ‘insulation is not reasonably practicable’. Failure to comply with insulation obligations under the new legislation could attract a penalty of $4000.
Other exceptions to insulation requirements
There are other situations in which rental properties may not need to meet the insulation requirements.
- Where the landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild all or part of the property within 12 months of the start of a tenancy. In this case the landlord must, if requested, provide evidence of having applied for the necessary resource consent and/or building consent for the redevelopment or building work.
- Where a property is purchased from and immediately rented back to the former owner-occupier – in which case a 12 month exception will apply from the date of purchase.
Where the landlord can provide evidence that the insulation is still in reasonable condition and that when originally installed it complied with particular insulation requirements. These may be either specifications outlined in the building consent or an Acceptable Solution or Verification Method under the Building Code(external link).