Changes to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act come into force today, and include provisions for tenants to more easily have fibre broadband installed.
Landlords are now unable to refuse renter requests for fibre so long as the installation is free - which UFB network operator Chorus says it is for the majority of installations - and the property doesn't fall under specific exemptions (keep reading).
"Previously, landlords could simply decline renter requests for fibre without justifying why," says Nick Miskelly, Chorus' manager for stakeholder, consenting and acquisition.
"The potential problem is that the install can be done in the cheapest possible way which can look really shoddy," NZ Property Investors Federation head Andrew King told the Herald.
"I can only imagine that any landlord who disagreed with fibre installation before this law change was because of the impact on the property and Chorus not wanting to install the fibre in the best way."
Many would argue UFB fibre would make a property more rentable, but if a landlord doesn't want extra cables, the updated Act does provide a laundry list of exceptions.
One exemption is if a fibre installation would "materially compromise the weather-tightness of a building" - something that could be tested objectively.
Another is if it would "materially compromise the character of a building". The legislation acknowledges this is a more subjective matter that "might need to be tested by the Tenancy Tribunal".
A third exemption allows a landlord to forbid a fibre installation if extensive renovations or building work are planned within 90 days.
If your landlord claims one of the exemptions, an alternative to UFB fibre is fixed-wireless access (FWA), also known as wireless broadband, which uses a mobile network to deliver faster internet into a home or business. Some 200,000 customers are on fixed-wireless broadband across Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees.
King said overall his organisation was "fine" with the law change. He couldn't see many landlords objecting to fibre.
Chorus says 76 per cent of installations are now completed in a convenient single visit, and it looks forward to more households joining the more than 800,000 already taking advantage of its fibre network.
As of September, 2020, 62 per cent of premises within reach of UFB fibre had connected, according to MBIE figures.
The rollout aims to have 1.8 million homes and businesses within reach of UFB fibre by the time it wraps up at the end of 2022. Today, some 1.1 million are within reach across all UFB operators (who beyond Chorus include NorthPower Fibre in Whangarei, Enable in Christchurch and Ultrafast Fibre in the central North Island).