The Tenancy Tribunal is taking a hard line on landlords who have failed to meet the July 1 insulation deadline, with nine landlords found in breach of the new rules.

Since July 1 rentals must have underfloor and ceiling insulation installed wherever practical, to ensure Kiwi homes are warm and dry.

Landlords were warned there would be no grace period as they had known for three years they would need insulation by July 1.

One hundred complaints were filed by tenants after the new rules came into force, with the nine decisions published so far all finding in the tenants' favour.


Eight of the landlords have been required to pay "exemplary damages" to their tenants - meant as a deterrent to other landlords.

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Among them, one couple must pay their tenant $2270 after they refused to rectify heating and insulation issues despite repeated requests from their property agent.

Property managing company Oxygen told landlords Ruth and Teri Flanagan several times, starting in 2017, that they were obliged to heat the living room of their Napier flat and needed to have ceiling insulation installed by July 2019.

But in May 2018 the Flanagans said they did not want to do anything as they believed it was already insulated, the Tenancy Tribunal heard.

As the July 1 deadline approached Oxygen tried to contact the Flanagans for authorisation to insulate, but after getting no answer they organised the work themselves.

Insulation was installed on July 3 - three days after the deadline - but the law was still broken, the tribunal found.

"I consider it extremely doubtful that insulation would have been installed at all without the unilateral action of Oxygen to get the issue addressed," adjudicator K Milne said, in awarding the tenant John Ross $1300 in exemplary damages.


Ross was also compensated $10 per week for the 95 weeks he went without a living room heating source, which is required under the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947.

Other landlords' reasons for not installing insulation in time were similarly rejected, including landlord Laura Daly rejecting a Pinkfit quote for underfloor insulation at a Te Kauwhata house because it was too expensive, leading to her missing the July 1 deadline. She must pay tenants Graham and Janine Kirkham $1000.

Another tenant was awarded $1500 when his landlords, Naran and Jaman Dahya, failed to install insulation under a living room floor situated above a garage in Balmoral.

However tenant Robert Pycroft lost his case querying whether the existing ceiling insulation was compliant in his Balmoral flat, with the tribunal saying it was his job to prove noncompliance.

Landlords were given a three-year lead-in to make sure they were compliant with the new insulation rules but it's estimated 100,000 rentals still missed the deadline. Photo / File
Landlords were given a three-year lead-in to make sure they were compliant with the new insulation rules but it's estimated 100,000 rentals still missed the deadline. Photo / File

Landlord Ina Evans had to pay her tenant for failing to insulate her Glen Eden flat because she thought she had until the end of the year to do so. Jennifer Ann Curtis ended her tenancy on July 13 but was still awarded $1000.

Believing she had till the end of the year was a mitigating factor but not an excuse, adjudicator B Hannan wrote.

"I trust the property will not be re-let until it is compliant."

On Tuesday the Herald reported on the first tenants who had won their cases, including one family awarded $1500 who had been living in a cold, damp house while their child was being treated with viral pneumonia.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has encouraged tenants to talk to their landlords before applying to the Tenancy Tribunal.

MBIE estimated 100,000 rental properties were still not insulated when the rules came into force.

The Insulation Association says there has been a high demand for insulation and some landlords say this has caused delays in them meeting the July deadline.