Compulsory Insulation in Rental Properties from July 2019 - What are Your Obligations as a Landlord?

Kimberley Langridge

From 1 July 2019 all residential landlords must comply with the Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 (‘the Regulations’).  The Regulations make it compulsory for ceiling and underfloor insulation to be installed in all rental properties. Failure to comply with the Regulations could attract a penalty of $4,000.

Insulation is measured by R-value which is a rating as to how well it resists heat flow. A higher R-value represents better insulation. Different standards apply depending on whether ceiling and underfloor insulation was installed in the property pre July 2016; or if there is no existing insulation or it was installed after 1 July 2016.

Ceiling and underfloor insulation was installed in the property pre July 2016

If the property achieved the minimum R-value when the insulation was installed and is in what the Regulations deem to be a reasonable condition, then, there may be no requirement to upgrade the insulation.

In order to determine if insulation is in reasonable condition regard must be given to the extent to which the performance of the insulation is compromised by any aspect of its condition, the extent of dampness, damage, degradation or displacement, and the condition of items ancillary to the installation such as strapping or staples. If any part is not in a reasonable condition, then the insulation needs to be replaced in accordance with the standards for installation post 1 July 2016.

The minimum R-value for a pre-July 2016 timber framed property is R 1.9 ceiling and R 0.9 underfloor. The minimum R-value for a pre July 2016 masonry property is R 1.5 ceiling and R 0.9 underfloor.

No existing insulation or it was installed in the property post July 2016

The geographic location of the property plays a part in determining what standard you need to meet if there is no existing insulation or it was installed in the property post July 2016. There are 3 zones in New Zealand, and zone 3 encompasses the entire South Island.

Zones 1 and 2 have a minimum R-value of R 2.9 ceiling and R 1.3 underfloor. Zone 3 has a minimum R-value of R 3.3 ceiling and R 1.3 underfloor.


There are limited circumstances where exceptions to the Regulations will apply. However, these must be formally recorded and are not deemed to apply as of right. Exceptions include:

  1. Where there is no access to the installation location without carrying out substantial building work or causing damage to the property ( e.g  house is built on a concrete slab leaving the installation of underfloor insulation unrealistic);
  2. Health and safety risks to people would be greater than the normal level while installing insulation;
  3. If when the insulation was originally installed there were requirements or bylaws applicable and the landlord can show a relevant certification of compliance;
  4. The landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild all or part of the property within 12 months of the commencement of the tenancy; or
  5. The tenant is the immediate former owner and has rented back the property.

In order to obtain an exception you need a builder or professional insulation installer to provide written confirmation as to the exception. We recommend that any landlord clients also include a copy of the written exception in the Residential Tenancy Agreement for the property, for the avoidance of doubt.

Checking compliance with the Regulations

If you are looking to purchase a rental property then we invite you to contact us to discuss your situation, and suggest you complete insulation investigations as part of your due diligence. Obtaining an insulation statement from a professional insulation installer would be the first step in order to ascertain whether the property is compliant with the Regulations, whether any exceptions may apply or whether you need to factor some money into your budget for completing insulation upgrades.