All rental properties in New Zealand must comply with the healthy homes standards that became law on 1 July 2019. These specific and minimum standards cover heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping in rental properties.
KEY DATES FOR HEALTHY HOMES STANDARDS
All private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 1 July 2021, with all private rentals complying by 1 July 2024. All boarding houses must comply by 1 July 2021.
Tenancy Agreements - Compliance Statement 1 December 2020
All new, varied or renewed tenancy agreements must include specific information about the property’s current level of compliance with the healthy homes standards – called a Compliance Statement.
The compliance statement is an addition to the tenancy agreement and while the property owner can attend to providing this assessment, the information supplied must be in accordance with this compliance template and be fully completed to ensure that the property complies with NZ legislation.
Although Click cannot legally undertake the assessment, we can have this professionally assessed for a fee. This will give you a fully documented report with photos and comments on all areas. If the residential rental property is not compliant, the report will contain appropriate recommendations of work required. All compliant properties will also receive a compliance certificate.
WHY DO WE HAVE THESE STANDARDS?
The New Zealand government advisers research shows that although many landlords do maintain and upgrade their properties, there are some that don’t which can mean some tenants live in cold, damp homes which can negatively impact their health.
The reasoning behind the healthy homes standards is to ensure all landlords provide healthier, safer properties and therefore in turn, lower maintenance costs for their investments.
Healthy Homes Heating Standard
All rental properties must have one or more fixed heaters of at least 1.5 kW in heating capacity, which heats the main living room to at least 18°C and can maintain this temperature year round. Certain heating devices that are inefficient, unaffordable or unhealthy will not meet the requirements of this standard.
A heating assessment tool provides a report that shows the minimum heating capacity required. It can be used to check if current heating is sufficient or if it is necessary to install a new heater. The heating assessment tool uses information on the home’s location, build date, insulation levels, living room layout and other features to assess the required heating capacity for the home.
In most cases, the right type of heater will be a larger fixed heating device like a heat pump, wood burner, pellet burner or flued gas heater. In some cases, for example small apartments, a smaller fixed electric heater will be enough.
For more information about different heating options visit the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s website https://www.energywise.govt.nz/at-home/heating-and-cooling
Tolerance for Existing Heating
If you have one or more existing heaters that meet all of the following requirements, you do not need to add more heating:
› the heaters were installed before 1 July 2019
› the heaters each have a minimum heating capacity greater than 2.4 kW
› the heaters meet the general requirements for heaters outlined already
› the heaters have a combined total heating capacity that is at least 90 per cent of what you need.
However, as soon as a heater is replaced, it must be replaced by a device that meets all the requirements of the heating standard.
Healthy Homes Insulation Standard
Ceiling and underfloor insulation have been compulsory in all rental homes since 1 July 2019, where it is reasonably practicable to install. For information on the current insulation requirements.
Landlords who don’t have the correct insulation installed, and don’t meet the criteria for an exception, are in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. They may be liable for exemplary damages of up to $4,000.
Insulation requirements are measured by R-value. R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.
Depending on location, ceiling insulation needs to meet minimum R-values, or existing ceiling insulation installed before 1 July 2016 needs to be at least 120mm thick. Underfloor insulation needs a minimum R-value of 1.3.
Note: If you have foil insulation and it is ripped or doesn’t meet the minimum heating R-value, then it will need to be upgraded.
Minimum R-values vary across New Zealand. Check what zone your property is in. Dunedin (and the South Island) is — ceiling R 3.3, underfloor R 1.3
Exemptions to the insulation standard
Healthy Homes Ventilation Standard
Rental homes must have openable windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms and can be fixed in the open position. Kitchens and bathrooms must have extractor fans that ventilate extracted air to the outside.
There is an online tool to find out if you need to install new extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom of your rental property.
Note: This legislation allows landlords to carry out work themselves where a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP), Licensed Electrical Worker (LEW) or Licensed Gas Worker (LGW) is NOT required. However, landlords must employ an LBP for restricted building, plumbing or drainage work, a LEW for prescribed electrical work or a LGW for restricted gasfitting work.
Landlords are advised to employ a reputable professional where they have any doubts about achieving the required quality of work themselves, or where they are uncertain about whether exemptions apply. In most cases, electrical work needed to install an extractor fan must be performed by a licensed electrician. Replacing or installing new windows or doors may require a building consent.
Download the comprehensive booklet provided by Tenancy Services on the ventilation standard which also includes specific exemptions for the ventilation standard.
Moisture Ingress and Drainage Standard
Ground Moisture Barrier
This is generally a polythene sheet that can be bought from most building retailers. It can be installed by a home owner or a building professional.
Exemptions: it is not reasonably practicable to install something if a can’t access the area without:
Guidance document that provides advice for assessing whether a property is compliant with the moisture ingress and drainage standard of the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019.
Healthy Homes Draught Stopping Standard
Landlords must block any unreasonable gaps and holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors that cause noticeable draughts.
Open fireplaces must be blocked unless the tenant and landlord agree otherwise (in writing). If it is available for use, it must be in good working order and free of any gaps which could cause a draught that are not necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the open fireplace.
When determining if a gap or hole is unreasonable, the following factors should be considered:
› the size and location of the gap or hole
› the extent of the draught that is allowed through the gap or hole
› the extent of the total draught that occurs through the gaps or holes if there is more than one gap or hole at the premises
› the impact of a draught through the gap or hole on heat loss from the property.
The age and condition of the premises should not be considered when determining if a gap or hole is unreasonable.
As a rule of thumb, gaps or holes with a width greater than 3mm in or around the walls, ceilings, windows, doors and floors that let air into or out of the home will usually require blocking to prevent unreasonable draughts.
This means that if the edge of a New Zealand $2 dollar coin can fit in the gap, then the gap needs to be sealed.
For an in-depth booklet on Draught Stopping Standards
Maintain What is Provided To Meet NZ Standards
Landlords must also make sure that anything provided to meet these standards is appropriate, maintained in good working order or replaced as required. All insulation and ground moisture barrier must be done in accordance with NZ Standard 4246:2016
There are general exemptions that exempt a landlord from complying with the healthy homes standards in relation to a rental property.
If Landlords Don’t Comply
Those that do not comply with the healthy homes standards may face exemplary damages through the Tenancy Tribunal.
All building work must be compliant with the Building Code and there may be some instances where building consents are required – it’s best to discuss with your local Council or tradesperson.
At Click Property Management, we deal with these legal requirements on a daily basis – if you are struggling to manage your Dunedin property, give us a call to see how we can help 0800 125 425.