The Healthy Homes Standards became law on July 1 2019. Do you understand what it all means, why it has been introduced and what you must do by which date to comply? This article clarifies the facts and provides a simple solution that will help you comply without the stress and confusion.
The Healthy Homes Standards came into effect on July 1 2019 under the premise that every tenant has the right to live in a home that is dry, warm and therefore safer for their health and wellbeing.
The Standards have benefits beyond tenant safety. They will also benefit you in the following ways:
- Lower long-term maintenance costs.
- Improved capital gain because your property will need to comply with minimum standards and will therefore be maintained at a higher standard.
- Greater heating efficiency because insulation (one of the key Standards) helps keep your investment property warm and dry.
- Lower vacancy rates, meaning a steady flow of income. When a rental home is warm and dry, tenants avoid getting sick and are more comfortable, encouraging them to stay.
Why were the Standards introduced?
Research has discovered that, in general, rental homes in New Zealand are of a poorer quality than owner occupied homes. Given that almost 600,000 New Zealanders live in rental accommodation, the fact that many people are forced to live in a home that has the potential to cause or exacerbate certain health conditions is unsatisfactory. There is a scientifically proven link between cold, damp and mouldy environments and illnesses such as asthma and cardiovascular conditions. The Healthy Homes Standards have been put in place to eradicate those problems.
What happens if I don’t comply?
Landlords who fail to comply with the Healthy Homes Standards in accordance with the guidelines and timeline could incur a penalty of up to $4,000 for each property they own that doesn’t comply.
What are the Healthy Homes Standards?
The Standards are broken down into 5 categories (click on the links below to learn more about each Standard):
The compliance timeline
From July 1 this year it became mandatory for all rental homes to have adequate ceiling and underfloor insulation (with very limited exceptions, such as a property where insulation is impractical to install).
1 July 2020 – all landlords will be required to provide a Landlord’s Statement documenting the current level of compliance with the Standards for all new, varied or renewed tenancy agreements.
1 July 2021 – all rental homes must comply with the Standards within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy.
1 July 2024 – all rental homes in New Zealand must be fully compliant.
This means you have around 7 months to provide a Landlord’s Statement of Compliance/Non-compliance. So now is the time to take action if you haven’t already.
There are a number of grey areas, such as: all rental homes must have adequate ceiling and underfloor insulation unless impractical to install. Unless you are a qualified builder, how would you know what is regraded as ‘adequate’ and whether or not it is impractical to install?
While there are online tools to help, such as the online heating assessment tool, they are quite time consuming and complicated to use for most people.
This is where we can help
To help landlords (including self-managed property landlords) comply with the Healthy Homes Standards, PropertySafe has launched The Healthy Home Evaluation Report. More than just a compliance report, the report is designed to provide you with peace of mind by alerting you to areas of the property that don’t comply with the Standards and what you need to do to resolve those issues to become fully compliant. All that is required for the issue of a Certificate of Compliance (which is what all landlords need to comply) is evidence that any required works have been satisfactorily carried out.
Like all PropertySafe reports, the Healthy Home Evaluation Report is conducted by a fully licensed safety inspector and is very comprehensive. It includes detailed location shots, the inspector’s observations and a room-by-room, area-by-area result (compliant or con-compliant) with recommendations for rectification for each non-compliant issue. As a bonus, the inspectors also conduct a general safety inspection while on the premises, highlighting any potential safety hazards (e.g. slip and trip, electrical, gas, pool fencing and more) and recommended actions to rectify those hazards.
For more information or to order your report today, contact the team at PropertySafe on 029 239 1134 or 09 887 3299.