• Insurance tips for homes damaged by earthquakes

     


    The Insurance Council of New Zealand are advising people to contact their insurer as well as the Earthquake Commission as a result of the earthquakes in the early hours of this morning.

    People who have suffered damage to their home, land or contents from today’s earthquakes have three months to lodge their claim with the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

    “People’s first priority will be to make sure their loved ones are safe and out of harm’s way. If people need to take urgent action to make their home safe, secure, weather-tight and sanitary, they should also record any remedial work done and take photographs.

    Commercial property owners should contact their brokers.

    Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton says “taking photographic evidence of the flooding and damage to your property will help with your claims assessment and if you need to move damaged or contaminated goods from your house for health and safety reasons”.

    Tips for recovery:

    • Contact your insurer, or insurance adviser
    • Act safely to prevent more damage to your property
    • Try to make the buildings safe and weatherproof
    • Take pictures of the damage (buildings and contents) for insurance claims
    • Keep all damaged items for inspection
    • Get essential services repaired e.g. water, electricity, gas, sewerage – keep copies of your bills
    • Make a list and take pictures of any perishables you have to dispose of
    • Don’t start non-essential repairs without your insurance company’s approval.

    The extent of the insured damage will not be known for some weeks.

  • Government investigation team to crack down on bad landlords

     


    Tenancy investigators from a new government team have begun inspecting New Zealand’s rental homes – and say they were disappointed with what they found in Dunedin last week.

    “We take breaches of residential tenancy law seriously, and are working to crack down on poor landlord behaviour across New Zealand,” says Paul Coggan, Manager of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s new Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team.

    “Our Dunedin visit was just the start of these operations. We will be in cities and towns across New Zealand to raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords, and to ensure landlords are complying fully with the recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.

    “The level of non-compliance identified during this operation was concerning, especially in the area of the current insulation statements now required on tenancy agreements.

    “Landlords must make a statement about the location, type and condition of the current insulation, if any, on any tenancy agreement made since 1 July 2016, and it’s surprising there are still landlords who have not done it and are therefore failing to maintain legally required records.”

    A template of a current insulation statement appears on the Residential Tenancy Agreement form at Insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes from 1 July 2019.

    Mr Coggan said that it was also disappointing to see maintenance issues that affected the warmth and dryness of homes go unrepaired for long periods of time, despite being reported to the landlord.

    The team visited six student flats in the Castle Street area and a number of property managers, and also spoke to advocates and other interested parties.

    Mr Coggan says MBIE made the visits to assess how landlords were complying, as well as to gain an understanding of the local market and unique issues faced by landlords and tenants in the area.

    “We will not hesitate to take action for breaches of residential tenancy law. Breaches will be subject to compliance action and potentially exemplary damages of up to $4,000 per breach. MBIE encourages anyone in this situation to visit Tenancy.govt.nz to learn more about their options for resolving the issue,” Mr Coggan says.

     

  • Flooding Hell! How to deal with a tenant affected by a natural disaster

    The wild weather over the past month has been an eye-opener for many landlords and property managers.

    Tenants and residents in West Auckland were forced to evacuate their flats and houses after gushes of water flowed through their properties last month, and now floods are causing havoc all over the North Island because of Cyclone Debbie.

    So, what is the is the correct protocol for property managers and landlords when rented properties become uninhabitable?

    Section 59 of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) applies when the premises are uninhabitable by reason of a natural event which has not been caused or contributed to by the landlord.

     “Properties can become uninhabitable when flooding goes through a dwelling,” tenancy.co.nz legal expert Scotney Williams said.

    “It is more than just water damage, which itself can be substantial but in most cases in flooding, the storm water can mix with sewage effluent and this toxic mixture adversely affects the ability to safely live in the dwelling.

    Lack of electricity on its own will not automatically give rise to uninhabitability.

    “When the catastrophic event occurs, the dwelling must be cleansed to ensure that it is not just dry again but safe to live in.”

    In these circumstances, the rent abates to zero and the landlord, in accordance with Section 59-2 of the RTA, is liable for the cost of housing the tenant in alternative accommodation for up to seven days.

    “The protocol under the RTA is that when a dwelling is considered uninhabitable the tenant can give two days’ notice or the landlord seven days’ notice to terminate the tenancy agreement.

    “When the landlord gives seven days’ notice then the landlord has the legal obligation to house the tenant for the seven days of the notice.

    “The landlord should be able to recover some of the accommodation cost implicit in this seven-day period in which the tenancy continues albeit at a different location and in reduced circumstances.”

     Tenants belongings are a different story.

    “Where a catastrophic event occurs the tenant’s, personal effects are at their risk. The landlord has no obligation to assist the tenants with their loss.

    “This is the best example need for tenant insurance.”

     

  • Whose responsibility is it to replace light bulbs? Tenant or Landlord?

    If you think it’s the tenant’s responsibility to change light bulbs in residential tenancies, think again.

    Under Section 45 of the Residential Tenancies Act, it says the landlord is responsible and liable for costs incurred in maintaining the property and must replace any items that will expire over time

    These include light bulbs, ovens, tap washers, water filters and spa pool pumps.

    “Landlords historically are required to replace anything that wears out over time,” tenancy.co.nz legal expert Scotney Williams said.

    “Usually tenants will replace their own, and the (Tenancy) Tribunal will even charge the tenant for light bulbs, but strictly speaking, it’s the landlord’s cost.”

    Williams recommends that landlords supply tenants with dozen or so light bulbs for a yearlong tenancy.

    However, this can become problematic if a landlord has expensive halogen light bulbs fitted throughout the house.

    “Apart from being expensive, they’re curse to fit,” Williams says.

    “What I would do is replace the halogen and change them for ordinary bulbs.”

    Another issue, especially in villas with high ceilings, is that the tenant is unable to physically reach the light fitting to change the bulb.

    But before you think about getting a ladder in the property for your tenants, Williams warns that you have to make sure your light bulbs are under a certain height – because it’s now a health and safety issue.

    “There is no alternative than to get an electrician for light bulbs that are over 2.4 metres high,” he said.

    “What you can’t do is that if they’re set up at three metres on vaulted ceilings of older houses it’s a health and safety issue and you have to get an electrician to do it.”

    Failure to comply under the Health and Safety Act 2015, under these circumstances, can result in a fine up to $150,000.

  • Health and Safety Must Read: The first step to becoming compliant


    For the first time in history, the law will hold property managers accountable in the same way as builders, gasfitters and even coal miners.

    Thanks to changes to the Health and Safety Act, there are now 130 different ways you can be fined.

    We’re not talking a slap on the wrist, either. Fines range from $3000 all the way through to $3 million.

     

    If that sounds serious, that’s because it is.

    No, we’re not saying you’re directly in the firing line for a $3 million fine, but this law change definitely puts the heat on property managers.

    Still, there’s no need to panic – at least not if you’re getting the right advice to help you through these changes.

    At TPS, we’re developing our own Health and Safety System. It’s not a generic, off-the-shelf system – it’s designed specifically for property managers.

     

    It’s scheduled for launch at the beginning of April.

    After many hours reviewing the legislation and triple-checking procedures, we’re confident we have the best Health and Safety system any property manager could ask for.

    Once you’re a member, our Health and Safety software system will give you:
    • Contractors Agreement you can use for every tradesman
    • Access to Trade Search – a database of every registered tradesman in New Zealand that lets you vet a contractor before you invite them onto your property
    • Resources- the full suit of everything you need- Policies, flowcharts, list of activities, staff training matrix incident report, close call report, emergency procedures, fire evacuation procedure, earthquake procedure and much more.
    • Risk assessment training
    • Access to the Risk Assessment Test
    • Ability to register a PCBU and staff members
    • Ability to upload and store your Health and Safety documents
    • Certificate of completion

    So you and your staff can become compliant quickly, easily at the least cost possible

    We’ll also add you to a public register of Authorised Property Managers, so that when landlords are looking for Property Managers that comply under the act, you can be searched.

    Important:

    Before April, you will need to open a TPS Portal account.

    Although there is no cost to opening your TPS Portal account, there will be cost associated with becoming compliant under the Health and Safety at Work Act should you wish to become compliant through us.

    If you already have access to the TPS Portal, you do not need to open an account. Simply wait for us to email you with the next step.

    How to open your TPS Portal account free of charge:

    Once you have your TPS Portal account, we’ll supply you with further instructions over the coming days.