On July 1, 2019, the Healthy Homes Standards came into law. This new regulation aims to lift the standard of rental properties throughout New Zealand by imposing minimum requirements around heating, ventilation, insulation, draught stopping and moisture ingress.
If you own a rental property now’s the time to ensure that it’s up to these standards - failure to do so could mean a fine of up to $4,000. This shouldn’t be viewed negatively - instead, look at it as an opportunity to add value to your investment and retain your tenants long term!
To help you prepare, we’ve broken down all the important information that landlords need to act on.
Every rental must have a fixed heating device or devices capable of keeping the living room temperature at 18 degrees. A heat pump, for example. If you need to buy a new heater for your rental, make sure you choose something efficient, affordable and healthy as some which do not meet these criteria will not meet requirements.
Countless New Zealand homes have little or no insulation, most of which will be cold and damp during winter. To solve this problem the Healthy Homes Standards require that every rental property has ceiling and underfloor insulation that meets the 2008 building code or existing ceiling insulation with a minimum thickness of 120mm.
You’ll need to have your insulation inspected and certified by an expert if you haven’t already, and if it doesn’t meet standards it’ll need to be topped up.
To help maintain dry, healthy air, rental properties must have openable windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. Rooms with a bath, shower or indoor cooktop must also have an appropriately sized extractor fan.
If your rental doesn’t meet these ventilation standards you’ll need to get quotes from builders to install extractor fans and/or windows where necessary.
Draught stopping standard
All gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors that cause noticeable draughts must be blocked, along with any unused chimneys or fireplaces. If you’re handy and the gaps are only minor, you may be able to do this yourself with a roll or two of insulation tape. If not, you’ll need to get a quote from a handyman or builder to complete the work.
Moisture ingress and drainage standard
If the subfloor of a property is enclosed moisture can build up over time, creeping into the home, making it damp and cold. To stop this from happening the Healthy Homes Standards require landlords to install a ground moisture barrier if it’s possible to do so. This is simply a layer of plastic that sits between the foundations/earth and the home’s subfloor to stop moisture from creeping upward into the property. Landlords must also ensure sufficient guttering, downpipes and drains.
A handyman or insulation expert will be able to supply a quote for installing a moisture barrier, and a plumber is your best bet for checking and installing drainage.
Private landlords must ensure that their rental property complies with the Healthy Homes Standards within 90 days of any new tenancy from 1 July 2021. After that, the requirements progressively expand to include all rental properties:
- 1 July 2021: All boarding houses must comply with the Healthy Homes Standards.
- 1 July 2023: All Housing NZ and registered community housing provider homes must comply with the Healthy Homes Standards.
- 1 July 2024: All rental homes must comply with the Healthy Homes Standards.
Does your property meet all the standards listed below? If you’re uncertain, speak to a property management expert at your local Professionals office to get it sorted.