COMMENT:

As the cold snap hits this week, I wonder how many landlords are sweating it.

They are after all in a race against time and supplies in order to get homes insulated by the deadline of the first of July.

The new rules mean they must have floor and ceiling insulation where possible in all rental properties.

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But despite this scheme being announced back in 2016, many landlords have left it until the last minute to act - and now face a shortage of insulation product, and a shortage of people to install it.

In fact there's a backlog - a queue of landlords waiting to get it done, who've been told they may be waiting for a couple more months.

So what will happen to the landlords who don't make the deadline?

Well it's up to tenants to act and speak up. In the first instance to their landlord, and failing that, to report it to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Landlords could face fines of up to $4000.

But that relies on renters to be able to call out their landlords and in this tight rental market, how many are going to risk that?

How many tenants are going to put up with another winter of freezing conditions because they're too scared to blow the whistle on a dodgy landlord for fear they get turfed out?
And if you get biffed out of one flat, how do you get another with potentially no reference, or worse, an aggrieved landlord making your future rental attempts difficult?

Many tenants say landlords hold all the power, and that even property managers tend to side with landlords.

So I feel sorry for tenants who appear stuck between a rock and a hard place here.

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The onus really should be on MBIE to monitor and check that landlords are following through on correct insulation. It should not be the tenant's job to police that.

MBIE has said it has a team of staff, there's about 27 of them, who'll investigate complaints about rentals. But what about a team to police and push landlords to do the right thing? What about not waiting for fearful tenants to have to complain?

Too many landlords will attempt to shirk the rules under the guise of not being able to get the insulation done in time.

But that shouldn't fly as an excuse. They've had three years to sort it, and it's tenants who've suffered and will continue to suffer, until it's done. And in the interim, I doubt many tenants will have the courage or gumption to risk confronting or complaining about their landlord.

It should be MBIE's job to chase landlords here - not the tenants.