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Tougher penalties for landlords mooted

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/04/2016

Tougher penalties for landlords who don't install smoke alarms and insulation are among the changes a select committee has recommended to a proposed new law that'll impose new minimum standards for rental homes.

Parliament's social services select committee has just reported back on the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill and it wants the maximum fines landlords could face for failing to comply increased from $3000 to $4000.

The select committee, in its majority report, said the lower amount was "too low to encourage landlords to comply with these important, potentially life-saving requirements".

It also called for tougher penalties for landlords who issue their tenants with retaliatory notices ending their tenancy agreements.

Such notices are unlawful, but given the power imbalance between tenants and landlords, the select committee decided a stronger deterrent was needed and mooted a maximum fine of $4000.

The bill unanimously passed its first reading in parliament late last year.

While Labour and the Greens are broadly supportive of it, they don't think it goes far enough and want a "warrant of fitness" scheme brought in for rental properties.

Once the bill becomes law, all rental properties will have to have smoke alarms installed by July 1.

The insulation requirements will be brought in in stages, but will be fully implemented by July 2019.

From July, landlords will also have to disclose on tenancy agreement what, if any, insulation a property has.

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