Doing repairs and renovations the right way

Tenancy Services has reminded landlords to use licensed builders, electrical workers, plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers when have repairs or renovations carried out.

Tenancy services says it ensures work on a landlord’s property is completed safely and meets the relevant standards.

Using licensed practitioners

It’s important when carrying out maintenance or renovations to use licensed practitioners, where required.

Hiring licensed builders, electricians, plumbers, gas fitters and drain layer helps make sure the work is done correctly, adheres to safety standards, and meets legal requirements.

Using unlicensed tradespersons may affect insurance and could end up being more expensive if work needs fixing later.

It could also mean a landlord is in breach of their legal obligations.

Checking a practitioner is licensed

When engaging licensed practitioners, an easy way to confirm they are qualified and competent to perform the work is to see their professional ID card.

That way a landlord will know they are qualified and competent to perform the work, and that it will meet the relevant trade standards.

Licensed building practitioners

If a landlord is planning building work on their property, the required work will need to be assessed.

A Licensed Building Practitioner’s (LBP) will determine if the work required is Restricted Building Work (RBW) or not.

This means work that is critical to making a home structurally sound and weathertight.

If the work is RWB, it needs to be designed by a Licensed Building Practitioner, the work also needs to be supervised or completed by an LBP to meet legal requirements.

Generally, a landlord will need to use LBPs for bigger, or more complex jobs. Restricted building work (RBW) applies to work that both: requires a building consent and affects a home’s primary structure, weathertightness, certain fire safety design.

Primary structure includes the parts of a building that help resist vertical or horizontal loads, such as foundations and subfloor framing, floors, walls (framing, brick/block, internal linings), roofscolumns, beams and bracing.

Weathertightness includes parts of a building that keep water out or help control moisture within the building fabric, such as claddings and cavities (junctions, flashings etc), some windows, doors and skylights, damp-proofing and water-proofing.

Fire safety design applies to townhouses and small-to-medium sized apartments.

The rules about restricted building work are related to the council’s role in consenting and inspecting building work. This protects the landlord and future owners by creating a record of who did what on the house.

If landlords don’t use the right people, and the building work does not comply with the Building Code, the council may not approve your consent application, may delay your code compliance certificate for the work or could issue a “notice to fix” for breaching the Building Act.

Without the right paperwork, a landlord’s insurance or finances could be affected, and it could pose problems when it’s time to sell.

The rules about restricted building work are important. If the landlord or your builder doesn’t follow them, there are instant fines or they could face a court fine of up to $20,000.

DIY and exempt work

Landlords can be part of New Zealand’s long established DIY (do-it-yourself) building tradition, so long as they meet the Building Code requirements and get the right consents and permissions.

A lot of low-risk building work can be carried out by a landlord on their own rental without a building consent.

Check if you need consents has more information. In addition, the 'Can I build it' tool helps a landlord out if their building work needs a building consent.

Work that doesn’t require a building consent is not restricted and doesn’t require an LBP.

If a landlord wants to carry out restricted building work on their rental, they can apply to the council for an owner-builder exemption.

With an approved owner-builder exemption, landlords won’t need an LBP to do or supervise restricted building work.

Whether planning a large or small project, any building work landlords must meet the minimum standards set out by the Building Code.

From 25 October last year, all LBPs have had to comply with a code of ethics, which was introduced by the Government in 2021.

The code of ethics details the standards of ethical behaviour expected of all LBPs. It applies to LBPs carrying out building work, as well as those supervising building work.

The code of ethics consists of 19 standards that sit under four key principles. LBPs must comply with all of these. The four key principles are work safely, act within the law, take responsibility for their actions and behave professionally.

Compliance with the code of ethics should assure the public that an LBP has undertaken their building project with an acceptable standard of care and ethical behaviour.

If you think an LBP has breached the code of ethics, you can make a complaint to the Building Practitioners Board. They will investigate the complaint and will decide how to proceed.

Electrical workers

Landlords are prohibited from doing any fixed wiring work including fitting of power points on properties that they are renting out. It’s important to use a licensed electrician for safety and to meet legal requirements.

Plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers

Sanitary plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying work is restricted and can only be carried out by tradespeople who are registered and licensed to do so. 

Engaging unlicensed practitioners can void your insurance, compromise home safety, and increase the likelihood of leaks and costs from ongoing issues.

Useful links

Hiring a builder or tradesperson  — Consumer protection website

Planning a renovation  — Consumer protection website

Checking if you need consents  — Building Performance website

Getting electrical work done  — Worksafe website

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