New law to help tenants "quake-safe" their homes – EQC

New law to help tenants "quake-safe" their homes – EQC | Insurance Business New Zealand

New law to help tenants "quake-safe" their homes – EQC

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has lauded a recent amendment in New Zealand housing legislation because it will help tenants make their homes safer in case of earthquakes.

Among the changes stipulated in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act prohibits landlords from unreasonably withholding consent for a minor fixture, renovation, alteration, or addition to a rental property. The change will be effective on February 11, 2021.

According to Dr Jo Horrocks, EQC chief resilience and research officer, this means that tenants will be able to take action to secure their furniture and appliances against earthquake risk.

“We know from our research that many landlords are already happy to let their tenants secure items like bookcases to walls to make their home safer,” she said. “However, these changes will help tenants who might have been having difficulty in getting approval for this type of work to be done.”

The Act also requires tenants to restore the premises to substantially the same condition it was in before changes were made.

EQC urged tenants to properly secure tall and heavy appliances and furniture, due to the greater risk of damage and injury during an earthquake. These include bookcases, sets of drawers, cabinets and hot water cylinders.

Horrocks added that landlords should also take steps towards strengthening their properties, such as removing or replacing hazardous chimney types and making sure foundations are in good condition and properly secured.

“The last thing many landlords will want is a property that’s unliveable due to damage from a disaster,” she said.