New Zealand’s final Healthy Homes Standards for rental homes have just been announced and will come into effect on July 1. The standards, which are available to read in full on the New Zealand Legislation website, set minimum requirements for rental housing with a focus on making homes warm, dry and generally healthier for tenants. With July 1 just around the corner, now is the time for all Property Managers to get up to speed with the requirements.
The Healthy Homes Standards (HHS) establish minimum requirements for heating, ventilation, insulation, moisture, drainage and preventing draughts from entering a rental property. These requirements are in line with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development’s mandate that all New Zealanders have the right to live in a home that is warm and dry.
The new standards in brief
- All rental homes must have a heater that can heat the main living space to at least 18˚C on the coldest day.
- Rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation that:
- Meets the 2008 Building Code insulation standard when installed, or
- Has a minimum thickness of 120mm for existing insulation.
- The kitchen and bathrooms must have extraction fans or rangehoods in place.
- For rental properties with an enclosed subfloor space, property owners must install a ground moisture barrier to stop moisture rising into the home.
- Any gaps that allow draughts to enter the home, making it harder to heat, will need to be sealed.
The standards also reinforce the existing law that states landlords must have adequate drainage and guttering to prevent water entering the home. Furthermore, the 2016 insulation requirements remain in force.
What is required from July 1 2019?
From July 1 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes where it is practically reasonable to install. Landlords who fail to comply could incur a penalty of up to $4,000. Landlords with more than one property could face separate fines for each property that fails to comply.
The average cost for a professional installer to lay both ceiling and underfloor insulation is $3,400 + GST based on a 96sqm property. With the deadline rapidly approaching, insulation installers may book out quickly so it’s best that landlords act sooner rather than later.
Landlords who have installed new ceiling and underfloor insulation since 2016 would already meet the 2008 Building Code and therefore don’t have to do anything.
From 1 July 2019, landlords will also have to:
- Maintain records that demonstrate compliance with any Healthy Homes Standards that apply or will apply during the tenancy, and
- Include a separately signed statement of intent to comply with the Healthy Homes Standards in any new, varied or renewed Tenancy Agreement.
What do you need to do?
Be prepared. Understand what you need to do to comply and know your timeline. You can outsource the compliance to another company and that is where we can help assist you with a full compliance report that offers solutions as well as the appropriate record documents that are required.
Is it really important?
Yes. To put it bluntly, landlords face the risk of being fined however there are other benefits. By keeping an investment property in good condition the longer-term capital gain increases and can help to reduce vacancy periods.
What is the compliance timeline?
While it will be a few years before all rental homes in New Zealand must comply with the Healthy Homes Standards in full (1 July 2024), a timeline has been established that sets out what needs to happen when.
Click here and scroll down for the timeline.
The bottom line
Every tenant has a right to be safe at home. The most comprehensive way to ensure all-round safety for tenants and provide peace of mind for landlords is to have a professional Healthy Homes Evaluation Report conducted.
The report encompasses all five standards as well as any high risk safety observations. The scope of the report is guided by legislated requirements that are current.