NEW Healthy Homes Standards for Rentals
The new Healthy Homes Standards apply to New Zealand's 600,000 rental properties to make them warmer, drier and healthier.
New requirements for Rental Properties and Tenancy Agreements
In December 2017 the coalition Labour/NZ First government passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act aiming to improve the health and warmth of the nations 600,000 rental properties by creating minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, moisture ingress and drainage.
The resulting 'Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019' were passed in May 2019 and came into force from 1 July 2019. The Healthy Homes Standards for rental properties cover five key areas which are:
- Drainage and moisture ingress
- Draught stopping
The regulations have information requirements for new/varied Tenancy Agreements effective from July 2019. Compliance with the standards commences progressively from July 2021 focusing on new tenancies.
Healthy Homes Standards - Landlord Deadlines
- By 1 July 2019: Insulation must meet the standards set in 2016.
- From 1 July 2019: New/varied Tenancy Agreements to include declaration of intention to comply with the 5 Healthy Homes Standards.
- From 1 December 2020 (extended from July 2020): New/varied Tenancy Agreements to include information on current levels of the 5 Healthy Homes Standards.
- From 1 July 2021: Rentals must comply with all the new Standards within 90 days from entering any new or varied Tenancy Agreements.
- By 1 July 2024: ALL rental properties must be compliant with the 5 Healthy Homes Standards.
The only extra requirement is for rentals with 70-120mm of ceiling insulation that required no work under the 2016 regulations. Under the Standards they too must meet the 2008 Building Code from 2021.
The minimum level of ceiling and underfloor insulation under the Standard must either:
a) meet the 2008 Building Code, or
b) for existing ceiling insulation have a minimum thickness of 120mm and be in reasonable condition.
Properties that have added (or already need to add) insulation to meet the 2016 regulations are not affected by the change to the Standard since they must still meet the required level of insulation.
Remember foil underfloor insulation that is damaged, torn or dusty, must be replaced with insulation as it is illegal to repair or install it.
The deadline for mandatory insulation in all rentals did not change. Since 1 July 2019 all rentals must be insulated.
An efficient fixed heating device that is capable of warming the living room to 18°C on the coldest day of winter is the new rental Standard.
An online tool has been developed to help landlords and tenants calculate the heating requirement.
In most rentals it will be a large source such as a heat pump or wood burner will be required. For very small living rooms and apartments a small fixed electric heater may be sufficient.
Inefficient, unaffordable or unhealthy heaters like unflued gas heaters, open fires, electric heaters* with a heating capacity of greater than 2.4kW or multiple electric heaters* can still be used but will not be accepted as meeting the Standard.
* refers to electric heaters that are not heat pumps.
The Healthy Homes Standards focuses on the ability to naturally ventilate the home and for extractors to be fitted in high moisture areas (kitchens & bathrooms).
There must be windows that can be opened in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms.
Kitchen & bathrooms are the largest sources of moisture in the home and so externally ventened extractor fan(s) are included in the Standard.
Ducted ventilation systems are not required under the Standard. They do however provide an additional safeguard from damage to the property due to moisture.
Drainage & Moisture Ingress Standard
The Healthy Homes Standards require rental properties to have an effective drainage system (gutters, downpipes and drains) that adequately drains away stormwater, surface water and ground water.
Ground moisture barrier is also required in rentals with an enclosed subfloor along 50% or more of the perimeter.
Ground moisture barrier are sheets of polythene at least 0.25 mm thick. It is lain over the ground under a house to prevent damp and damage to the home from rising damp. Moisture barrier is required even if there are existing subfloor vents.
Smart Energy Solutions has years experience installing ground moisture barrier which is most economically installed at the same time as underfloor insulation.
Draught Stopping Standard
Any gaps or holes that cause noticeable draughts must be 'stopped". This includes gaps/holes in and around windows, doors, walls, ceilings, floors and unused chimneys and fireplaces.
Stopping draughts is a relatively low cost measure and the government has indicated that gaps greater than 3mm that let air into or out of the home will require sealing.
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More reading on finance options and heat pumps
This information is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. For the latest information you can read the full details at the Tenancy Services website.