The Healthy Homes Bill was passed in December 2017. How will this affect NZ landlords?
Landlords already have obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 with respect to the properties they let out. However, there was no guidance about the specific standards they must meet to ensure warm and dry accommodation, until now. The new Government passed a law in December 2017 requiring all rental properties to be warm, dry and well ventilated.
The purpose of the Healthy Homes Bill is to ensure that every rental home in New Zealand meets minimum standards of heating and insulation.
The law will require landlords to guarantee that any new tenancy from 1 July 2019 must be either properly insulated or contain a heating source able to make the home warm and dry. There will also be a minimum requirement for heating, which Labour has indicated will be in the form of heat pumps. All tenancies must meet the new standards by 1 July 2024.
"This law enables the Government to set standards for rental housing quality. The Healthy Homes standards will cover heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, drainage and moisture. Many landlords will already meet these standards and will not have to change anything. For those that need to upgrade their properties, government grants for installing heating and insulation will be available." Says Housing Minister Phil Twyford.
The standards for insulation and heating will be set by MBIE within six months of the bill being enacted. Once these are established, the requirement to meet the standard will be one year for any new tenancy agreements. All tenancy agreements will be required to adhere to the standards within five years.
What had been initially proposed has now been re-written under section 138B – Healthy Home Standards. Some changes include a standard for the indoor temperature that can be reached and moisture levels to be minimised in houses, along with levels of insulation and heating sources in a rental property which were already known.
The good news is that less than 4% of the properties Click manages require any further insulation installed ahead of the deadline of July 2019. If work has already been completed, it is just a matter of making sure all work is documented. We are happy to talk through best practice if you have any questions around this.
As predicted this is just the beginning of a whole load of new landlords requirements. On the flip side, this is great for landlords who regularly maintain and look to make improvements to their properties – you are already on the way to ensuring your one step ahead of the Healthy Homes Bill. When any improvements are completed, rents will increase and we are finding that rents are already increasing significantly in the Dunedin area.
The fines for landlords not meeting their obligations has increased to $4,000 maximum penalty. Do you have time to study and learn the new Act? At Click, as a Professional Property Management Company working alongside you to help manage your asset - learning and passing this information onto you is what we do.