Standards New Zealand has released a new methamphetamine testing and decontamination standard. The new measures will be welcomed by landlords.
The main change is an increase in the limit at which contamination is deemed to have taken place from 0.5 micrograms to 1.5 micrograms per 100cm2. The new standard also establishes clear methods for sampling and testing, and testers and decontamination contractors will require a certain level of competency to achieve accreditation.
To date any level of meth' has been viewed as toxic with potentially devastating affects on a landlords investment, and concerns have been raised about inconsistent testing methodologies and cowboy operators. These standards and testing procedures may be found online by searching "NZS 8510:2017"
The changes are by way of regulation contained in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) which is progressing through Parliament. That Bill states, the landlord must not provide premises to a new tenant if meth' has been detected but not decontaminated, "in accordance with the prescribed methamphetamine decontamination process".
Where a landlord is to carry out testing, notice must be given to the tenant: "For the purpose of testing for the presence of methamphetamine, or taking samples for such testing, at any time between 8 o’clock in the morning and 7 o’clock in the evening of any day, after giving to the tenant notice of the intended entry and the reason for it at least 48 hours but not more than 14 days before the intended entry."
The landlord must notify the tenant within seven days of receiving the test results. If a test establishes that the premises are contaminated, the landlord may give not less than seven days notice of termination of the tenancy. A tenant may give not less than two days notice of termination.
Also on matters to do with regulations, the insulation grants scheme is being extended to include low-income homeowners. Until now, the government’s $18 million Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme has targeted landlords, who have been slow to take up the subsidies, despite being legally required to meet new insulation standards by 1 July 2019. The target had been to have 20,000 homes insulated over two years via the scheme but after a year only 3,700 properties had been insulated.
The Warm Up New Zealand insulation grants will be available on a first in basis until the end of June 2018, or earlier if the funding runs out. Now that low-income home owners will be able to take advantage of the subsidy, the uptake is likely to increase significantly and landlords may find themselves missing out.
If you have a rental property that needs to have insulation installed or upgraded to the new standard, and your tenants have a Community Services Card or they have a health issue related to living in a cold or damp environment, then I suggest you get cracking if you want to take advantage of the subsidy. Just a word of caution though. It is reported that some landlords have found it cheaper to install the insulation themselves, even after the subsidy so keep this in mind.
More information about the grants can be seen at www.energywise.govt.nz/funding-and-support/funding-for-insulation/.
On the local front, the re-entry of Shane Jones into national politics as the NZ First candidate for Whangarei, has just added a whole new dimension to the electorate race, and the future of NZ First. It is quite clear that Jones is the anointed one to take the leadership reins from Winston Peters, at a time that suits Mr Peters. The role is his for the taking, and securing the Whangarei seat would make it more certain.
Although National's Shane Reiti holds the Whangarei seat with a +13,000 majority, Shane Jones is a serious challenger. It will be a two-horse race and one that will be closely watched by the media. Jones is a former Labour Party minister and had the potential to gain support across the political divide, and he is up against a low-profile first-term National MP.
It would be a major upset if NZ First were to take the Whangarei seat, and another kick in the pants for National, but it has been a year for political upsets: Brexit, Trump, the rise of Emmanuel Macron in France, and the snap election result in the UK. The anti-establishment sentiment felt overseas may well arrive here in Whangarei come 23 September, and Winston Peters and Shane Jones may be the ones in the driving seat. In politics, nothing can be taken for granted.
Frank Newman writes a weekly article for Property Plus.