Propertyscouts Dunedin

June Newsletter - 1st Jun 2018

June Newsletter

1 June 2018 - Propertyscouts monthly disbursement message.

We would like welcome to the team our new Office/Accounts person Carmel. She offers over 5 years of experience is this role. You may have already received correspondence from her, if you have any questions at all please feel free to ask her as she will kindly assist any way she can. Carmel has returned home to Southland with her husband and collie dogs to enjoy the fantastic weather on their walks, even at this time of year BRRR.

Asbestos. Putting an end to the hype: Interestingly, some asbestos removal companies have been advertising that ALL landlords need an asbestos management plan for EVERY rental property they own. The fact of the matters is – thankfully, that is not correct. Worksafe have issued a policy statement which clarifies a landlord’s responsibilities concerning asbestos in rental properties. Under the HSWA (Health and Safety at Work Act 2015) all landlords must ensure that work carried out at their property is done safely and without endangering workers or any others, including tenants. Landlords and Property Managers acting on behalf of Landlords, have a duty to identify asbestos and prepare an asbestos management plan for work which involves, or may involve the risk of exposure to asbestos.

A full copy of the (plain English – including examples) Worksafe policy can be found here:

https://worksafe.govt.nz/laws-and-regulations/operational-policy-framework/operational-policies/policy-clarification-residential-landlords-and-asbestos/

Is your rental property a healthy home to live in: Lets face it, if we asked a tenant that question and then the landlord the same question, not surprisingly, we’d likely get two different answers. Most of our landlords are doing all that they can to ensure that their investment properties are warm and dry. However, the fact of the matter is – there are some Landlords who let the team down. Over the years we’ve seen some appalling rental properties, and yes there’s been a few that we haven’t been prepared to manage. We live in a country that prides itself on being clean and green, yet some of our rental properties are the worst in the OCED. We’ve said it before and apologies for sounding like a broken record but warm, dry, well maintained rental properties attract better tenants who will stay longer and pay more rent. Still not convinced? Well sorry to be the bad news fairies but the present Government are planning on taking some of the decision making around healthy homes out of the hands of Landlords. The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill became law in 2017. As its name suggests the Bill is all about making rental home healthier. The standards the Bill will focus on have yet to be set (except for insulation) but its expected that the standards will include the likes of:

·  The premises must be able to maintain a minimum inside temperature of (probably) 18 degrees Celsius.

·  The property will have to have adequate heating sources and most likely they will have to be energy efficient

·  Ventilation

·  Draught stopping and the prevention of moisture ingress.

Given a recent survey one Government Departments recently carried out which questioned occupants on the level of mould in their property don’t be surprised to see something about mould and mildew in the Bills standards as well.

Our advice is simple. Accept the changes for what they are and the overall good they will bring. For a lot of landlords their properties will already comply, so it will just be business as usual. It’s been a long time coming and as an industry we’ve left the door open for what in some cases has been justified criticism. The long-term benefits of complying with the likes of the Healthy Homes Bill will be good for the residential rental market, good for tenants and yes it will also be good for landlords.

Tenants liability for damage still unclear: Previously tenants used to be responsible for any carless damage they caused in their rental property. Then along came the Osaki case and a High Court ruling that found tenants couldn’t be held responsible for the cost of damage to a rental property where the property was insured, unless the damage caused was shown to be intentional. Responding to concerns from Landlords, the previous National Government introduced a Bill into Parliament that would have resulted in changes around this issue which would have benefited Landlords. A Select Committee has now reported back on the Bill and proposed changes seem to complicate the situation even more. The wording of the original Bill was that where a tenant damaged a property which was insured against damage then the tenant’s responsibility would be limited to either the applicable (insurance) excess or four weeks rent – whichever is lowest. But the Select Committee wants the words “for each incident” to be removed. It seems from this that any amount of damage will simply be treated as one incident of damage, thereby limiting a Landlords ability to recover costs from tenants. As the old saying goes –“anything is better than nothing” and even in its suggested form the change will be an improvement on the status quo but let’s hope common sense prevails and the original wording of the Bill is adopted rather than the watered down version.

FAQ:

Q. As a landlord I know that my rental property must be insulated by 1 July 2019. What parts of my property have to be insulated by this date?

A:  All ceiling and underfloor areas that can be accessed must be insulated by 1 July 2018. Insulating exterior walls is not necessary. The insulation must meet approved “R’ levels (different for certain parts of the country). The penalty for non-compliance after 1 July 2019 are up to $4000 in exemplary damages.

Heatpump and fire servicing reminder: For safety reasons it’s important that fires are cleaned yearly. Heat pumps should be serviced at least every two years. We have been successful in negotiating the same pricing as last year.

Investment syndicates: If you are interested in exploring the possibility off joining an investment syndicate of like minded investors to target residential investments in strategic areas around NZ then please get in touch. We have some very exciting opportunities coming up in the next couple of months.

Getting the best out of your heatpump during Winter:

  • Clean filters every 3 weeks
  • The colder the outside temperature the harder the heatpump has to work causing the heatpump to go into ‘defrost’ mode every hour or so. Decrease the temperature setting to prevent your heatpump from defrosting too often.
  • Use the ‘heat’ setting rather than the ‘auto’ setting on the remote.
  • Heatpumps heat rooms, not houses. Trying to heat large areas can sometimes cause the heatpump to work too hard. This makes them inefficient.

 Disclaimer: Given the opinions expressed in parts of this email it’s important that we make it clear that the contents of this email are opinions and observations and made in good faith. We suggest that in all cases independent legal and financial advice is sought.

Regards from the hard-working team at Propertyscouts

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