The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No. 2) introduced to Parliament today will provide better protections and clarity for tenants and landlords, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“This Bill makes three practical changes to the Residential Tenancies Act to help ensure our tenancy laws better manage methamphetamine contamination, liability for careless damage and the tenancy of unsuitable properties. It builds on the changes we made last year requiring smoke alarms and insulation, and establishing a Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team.
“This Bill recognises that meth contamination of properties has become a significant issue that needs clearer direction. We want homes to be safe but we also don’t want properties being vacated when the risks are low.
“Landlords will have easier access to test for meth and tenants will be able to terminate their tenancy if it presents at unsafe levels. Standards New Zealand is working on appropriate contamination thresholds and the Bill will enable these to be legally recognised and enforceable before the Tenancy Tribunal.
“The Bill also implements changes in respect of liability for careless damage arising from the Osaki decision last year. This court ruling means landlords cannot recover the costs of damage, including the excess charge on any insurance policy. The changes are needed to ensure tenants have an incentive to take good care of a property, and for the landlord to have appropriate insurance.
“Under the Bill, tenants will be liable for the cost of their landlord’s insurance excess up to a maximum of four weeks’ rent for each incident of damage caused by carelessness. A tenant remains fully liable where the damage is deliberate or a criminal act, and the landlord liable for fair wear and tear and damage beyond the control of the tenant, like a natural disaster.
“It also strengthens the law for prosecuting landlords who tenant unsuitable properties. The current jurisdiction of the Tenancy Tribunal is limited to residential buildings, meaning those who rent out unlawfully converted garages, warehouses or industrial buildings as living spaces can avoid accountability.
“These improvements to our tenancy laws will better protect responsible landlords and tenants and help our residential tenancy market function more effectively,” Dr Smith concluded.
A new Tasman Housing Accord aimed at boosting the district’s housing supply has been signed today by Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Mayor Richard Kempthorne.
“Tasman is a successful and growing region. Unemployment is the lowest in the country and our community is benefiting from this growth, but we need to ensure we keep pace with this growth by providing additional space for new housing,” Dr Smith says.
“Significant population growth is forecast in five of the Tasman District’s major settlements - Richmond, Mapua, Motueka, Brightwater and Wakefield – in the next 10 to 20 years. This Accord is about ensuring this growth is well managed and supported.
“The Accord signed today provides the basis for the Government and the Tasman District Council to continue working together to clear the red tape for developers and to free up land faster.”
The previous Housing Accord was entered into in May 2015. It set a goal of 260 additional sections and 620 new homes over two years, and these have been well exceeded, with 457 new sections and 693 new homes. The new targets for the period 2017-19 are for 800 sections and 1100 homes.
“The primary benefit of a new Housing Accord with Tasman is enabling new Special Housing Areas (SHAs) to be declared. The Government and Council are in discussions on several possible areas that will add hundreds of sections to supply. These will be considered in coming months alongside Council-lead policy on establishing future SHAs,” Dr Smith says.
“Nelson and Tasman are enjoying a record building boom, with $350 million of work consented in the past year. This new Accord with Tasman will ensure we keep up this pace of strong investment and growth.”
Temporary homes will be moved on to the Whakatāne Holiday Park and next to flood-damaged homes while properties in the Edgecumbe area are repaired, Lead Minister for Edgecumbe Anne Tolley and Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith said today.
The Ministers visited the holiday park to see the region’s recovery first-hand, and visit the site where a number of temporary homes will be built to increase accommodation options in the area.
“More than 250 homes were damaged when the Rangitāiki River broke its banks last month. MBIE’s Temporary Accommodation Service has had more than 90 registrations from people with damaged homes who need support to find temporary accommodation,” Mrs Tolley says.
“The Government remains committed to ensuring that locals have the support they need to get back on their feet as soon as possible.
“We’ve provided $500,000 of Enhanced Taskforce Green funding to employ people to assist the Council with the clean-up, and the first work crews got under way this week.
“Over 2800 Civil Defence payments, totalling more than $722,000, have been made to help people with food, clothing and bedding, and there’s also been over 230 other emergency related payments, totalling about $41,000.”
Dr Smith says: “The temporary housing to be built on Whakatāne Holiday Park and, where suitable, adjacent to flood-damaged homes will enable people to stay connected to their community while their homes are repaired. These are to complement the other housing options available through the private market, including holiday accommodation and social housing. The total initiative will include about 30 temporary homes.
“These solutions have proved very effective in supporting the recovery in the Christchurch and Kāikoura earthquakes and are an appropriate response to the difficulties faced by Edgecumbe flood victims. The first homes arrived this week and we are working with the Council to have the temporary village operational next month.
“These temporary accommodation options have been developed in partnership with the Whakatāne District Council, with the costs being shared. Households registered with the service will be able to access these homes while their own is repaired.”
Mrs Tolley and Dr Smith also visited a property in one of Edgecumbe’s most flood-affected streets, Rata Avenue, where the first portable unit was recently delivered and installed by the service.
“This is the first of a number of portable homes to be made available to homeowners who wish to stay on their own land. They will be connected to existing services where possible,” Dr Smith says.
Households affected by flooding who need support to find temporary accommodation should register at www.temporaryaccommodation.mbie.govt.nz or call 0800 779 997 to discuss your requirements.
The Government and the Hurunui District Council are establishing a temporary accommodation village in Waiau to help the town’s recovery from the Kaikōura Earthquake, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“Waiau was hit hardest of any community by the 14 November quake. The village suffered a higher proportion of damaged homes than any community affected by recent disasters. Recovery is best supported by people being able to stay in their community and that is why the Government is investing with the Council in this temporary accommodation village.
“The Council has purchased a central site from the Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Leslie and Clarence streets, and come to an agreement with the Government to take four of the houses from Rawhiti. The Government is contributing by selling them at a discounted price of $24,510 each and meeting the cost of transporting them to the site.”
Dr Smith and Hurunui Mayor Winton Dalley today visited the site.
“The establishment of a temporary accommodation village is an important step in the region’s recovery, as it allows Hurunui residents to stay in the area and continue to be part of the community while they rebuild and repair their homes,” Mr Dalley says.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s temporary accommodation service will manage the register of interest to stay, eligibility checks and allocation of houses before handing over clients to the Council, which will manage the tenancies, repairs maintenance, disputes, rent.
Dr Smith had announced earlier this year the 20 Canterbury earthquake temporary accommodation houses at Rawhiti would be made available for farmers to purchase at residual value, so they could live and work on their land while their home was repaired or rebuilt.
“The greatest need for these homes was for the displaced farmers, who have opted to purchase 16 of them. It makes great sense to use the remaining four to support the Council with the new temporary accommodation village,” Dr Smith says.
He and Mr Dalley also visited the first of these units to be up and running as on-farm accommodation, at Mendip Hills Station in Parnassus.
“More of these homes will arrive on farms around the Hurunui, Kaikōura and Marlborough districts in the next few weeks,” Dr Smith says.
“The Government and the Council are working closely together to support the recovery from the devastating Kaikōura quake. This practical step around temporary accommodation is an important part of the recovery effort.”
The return of Kaiapoi Domain to the Waimakariri District Council marks the start of a new chapter for the area, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
Dr Smith attended a ceremony today with Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers to formally hand back the remediated Kaiapoi Domain site.
“The Government built three temporary accommodation villages on reserve land in Christchurch and Waimakariri following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010/11. These villages – Linwood Park, Rawhiti Domain and Kaiapoi Doman – had a total of 84 homes and were built at a cost of $15 million to house people who needed somewhere to stay while their home was repaired or rebuilt,” Dr Smith says.
“The Kaiapoi Domain village closed in April 2016 due to easing demand and the 22 houses were sold. They had housed 180 households, who stayed five months on average. The three villages collectively housed more than 815 households.
“The villages have been run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as part of the Canterbury Earthquake Temporary Accommodation Service (CETAS). CETAS has helped more than 6500 households find temporary accommodation, which is a significant level of support contributing to Canterbury’s residential recovery and regeneration.
“Over the past couple years, the need for temporary accommodation support has reduced, to the point that the three villages on reserve land are no longer needed. The return of Kaiapoi Domain to the Waimakariri District Council today means the reserve can be repurposed for new community use initiatives and general recreational enjoyment.”
Queenstown is well on its way to hitting the target laid out in the Queenstown-Lakes Housing Accord, with six months of the original accord still to run, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Queenstown-Lakes Mayor Jim Boult announced today.
“We are confident we will meet the ambitious target of 1750 new residential sections and homes in the three years to October 2017. The monitoring reports released today show 1634 consents have been issued to date and, with six months to go, the target is likely to be exceeded.
“Residential building activity has more than doubled since the Accord was signed in 2014, with the latest figures showing $512 million in investment in the year to March 2017 compared with $256 million in 2014. This growth is not confined to the residential sector, with total construction growing from $285m to $683m over the same period.”
The Queenstown-Lakes Housing Accord increases the supply of housing in the district by speeding up the consenting process for developments and freeing up new areas of land for housing. The Council is required to monitor the number of sections and buildings consented against targets agreed between the Minister and the Mayor.
“We know from the experience in Christchurch that freeing up additional land is the single most important step Government and councils can take towards increasing housing supply and affordability. We have made progress, with seven Special Housing Areas with capacity for 950 additional homes being approved in Queenstown. We need to do more given the strong tourism sector and ongoing population growth in the district,” Dr Smith said after meeting Mr Boult today.
“We are planning to extend the scope of the Accord to support improved housing supply across the wider Queenstown-Lakes District, including Wanaka, and are working on new targets for the next three years to support growth. Our discussions today also included how the Government can support the Council’s infrastructure and opportunities for using surplus Crown land to support growth in housing.”
Mr Boult says the demand for housing across the district is stronger than ever, and he is supportive of any measures that can help local families get into their own homes.
“The cost of housing is a serious issue in our district and something this Council is working hard to address, both through the Special Housing Accord and the Mayoral Housing Taskforce. An extension of this legislation will lead more affordable housing stock being available for those who need it and, as such, I will recommend that our Council supports the Government initiative.”
Building can start on a $300 million, 600-home development at Riccarton Racecourse after the Government approved the final step for the Christchurch Racecourse Reserve Trustees and Ngāi Tahu Property initiative, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
Yesterday Cabinet approved the Riccarton Racecourse Development Enabling Order 2017, which lifts the land’s reserve status and allows the development to start. The housing development has been facilitated by legislation passed by Parliament last June.
“The benefits for Canterbury of freeing up this significant block of land are an increase in the supply of housing and a financial boost for the racing industry,” Dr Smith says.
“The key to improving affordability is increasing supply, and this development will do that while helping first home buyers into a new, high-quality home.
“Tremendous goodwill and vision by both Ngāi Tahu Property and the Board of Trustees of the Riccarton Racecourse has got us to this point and I congratulate them both. Together they have worked towards the release of this restricted use land so close to existing community redevelopment.
“This development, alongside those at Awatea, and Colombo and Welles streets, is the final phase of the Government’s housing response to the Christchurch Earthquakes. These Government interventions since the earthquakes in the planning and supply side of housing now position the region as one of the most affordable in the country. It provides a model of how we can resolve issues in other centres and a competitive advantage for the Canterbury region in attracting new industry and people.”
Proposed improvements to simplify building fire safety regulations and support their implementation are open for consultation, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“We currently have record high levels of commercial and residential construction and this needs to be supported by high quality regulation. We need systems that deliver safe buildings but also enable the design and construction of buildings to be done at pace. These changes will deliver both safety and efficiency gains.
“This discussion document, Consultation on Fire Safety Proposals, is the result of two years of working groups and targeted consultation with stakeholders. The proposals are aimed at further improving changes made to the Building Code’s Protection from Fire clauses in 2012.
“The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment has received input from the New Zealand Fire Service, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, building control officials and architects. The ministry has worked with international fire engineering experts to develop these proposals, and this public consultation is the next step in the process,” Dr Smith says.
Consultation closes on 14 July 2017. For more information and to make a submission visit: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/building-construction/consultations/fire-review
The Government is phasing down the use of the powerful greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in the air-conditioning and refrigeration industries, to help address climate change, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced this morning at the Bluegreens breakfast of the National Party’s northern conference.
“This plan to phase down the use of HFCs is an important part of the Government’s policies for addressing climate change. These synthetic gases are up to 15,000 times more potent in their global warming effect than carbon dioxide and are projected to by themselves raise temperatures by 0.5degC by the end of the century.
“This plan proposes to progressively reduce HFC consumption by more than 80 per cent over the next 20 years. Between 2019 and 2036, New Zealand will reduce the levels of HFC imports from around 1340 ktCo2eq to less than 260, meaning that New Zealand will meet its international commitments ahead of schedule. It will enable us to ratify the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol early next year and it will also contribute towards New Zealand’s Paris commitment of reducing our overall greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.”
The original Montreal Protocol from 1987 initially focussed on reducing chlorofluorocarbons, and then hydrochlorofluorocarbons, for the harm they do to the earth’s ozone layer and has been one of the most successful international environmental agreements. The Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol was agreed last October at a meeting in which New Zealand strongly advocated extending scope of the Montreal Protocol to address the global warming impacts of HFCs.
“The phase down of HFCs will have implications for New Zealand industries like air conditioning and refrigeration that will need to convert to new technologies. Consumers with heat pumps will not need to upgrade them but future replacements will need to use new technologies. We have calibrated the phasedown timetable to give industry and consumers time to adapt while also ensuring New Zealand positively contributes to the global challenge of reducing greenhouse gases.
“We welcome input on these proposals from industry, environmentalists and consumers, with submissions closing on 23 June 2017. We want to progress this work and the new regulations so New Zealand can lead in ratifying the Kigali amendment later this year,” Dr Smith concluded.
The consultation document and information on how to submit your views is available here.
Two reports released today by NIWA and the Ministry for the Environment on the technical background to the Clean Water proposals will help inform input into the plans to clean up New Zealand waterways, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.
“The Clean Water plan is very ambitious in nationally grading our rivers and lakes for water quality for recreation and requiring 90 per cent to be swimmable by 2040. This has never been done before in New Zealand or overseas, but it is an important step in addressing our water quality issues.
“The grading system has generated significant debate and these reports provide more information on how the grading system compares internationally and the level of precaution they are based on.
“These reports show that the only other jurisdiction that attempts to grade waterways for swimming is Europe. Their grades of excellent, good and sufficient match the New Zealand grades of excellent, good and fair, although the New Zealand proposals for the bottom fair category are more cautious. This analysis shows that if New Zealand adopted the European grading, more rivers would be deemed swimmable.
“The report also notes that the USEPA criteria of waters either being swimmable or not is a bit more cautious, but notes that this has not been applied across all states in the US and requires a small sample size of four, rather than the 100 in the New Zealand proposal.
“These reports also provide more detailed information on the levels of risk from swimming in the different grades of rivers and lakes. The average infection risk when a person makes no assessment of the state of the waterway before swimming is rated at 1 per cent for the blue category, 2.4 per cent for the green category and 3.1 per cent for the yellow category. If a person follows the advice of not swimming during high flows, determined as three times normal flows, the risks drop to 0.3 per cent for blue, 1.3 per cent for green and 2.0 for yellow.
“These reports also confirm that the changes to the National Policy Statement in moving from a wadeable standard of a median 1000 E. coli/100ml to swimmable with a median of 130 E.coli/100ml for 90 per cent of waterways provides for a significant improvement in the microbiological water quality in our waterways.
“The gradings of waterways into different categories for swimmability inevitably involves choosing some arbitrary thresholds. The balance in setting these levels is to ensure we provide sufficient protection for people to swim safely while also ensuring we do not set a level that discourages people from enjoying the outdoors when the risks are low.
“I welcome further submissions from water quality scientists, and others with an interest, on the details of the gradings outlined in these additional reports by 25 May. We want to build wide support for the grading system to enable the focus to be on the significant task ahead in driving improvement.”