Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill – A Guide for Landlords

The new Healthy Homes standards that are part of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill are now law, so they apply to all the residential properties in your portfolio. How exactly will this impact you and what should you do next?

There is a two-year implementation period which means the properties you own don’t have to conform to the new standards until 1 July 2021. However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore the new rules. Acting quickly now will save you time and money while also ensuring your tenancies continue to run smoothly.

The New Healthy Homes Standards

The new Healthy Homes standards focus on making rented properties warmer and drier. Therefore, they cover heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture/drainage, and draughts.

The New Standards for Heating

Here are the main points you need to know:

  • There must be a fixed heater in the main living area of all rented homes. This heater must be capable of heating the living room to at least 18 degrees Celsius even on cold days. This is the recommended minimum temperature according to the World Health Organisation.
  • In addition, heaters that are costly to run, inefficient, and/or unhealthy will not meet the new standards. Examples include open fires, gas heaters without flues, and electric heaters with a capacity that is more than 2.4 kilowatts (except heat pumps). Your rented properties can still have these types of heaters, but you will have to install additional devices to meet the new standards.
  • It’s likely you will need to install a heat-pump or wood burner in most of your properties. Smaller heaters may be acceptable in smaller properties like apartments, although they still have to be fixed and the minimum size is 1.5 kilowatts.

The Government is providing a calculator that you can use to find out the capacity of heater you need for each of your rented properties. A professional property management company can also help give you this information.

The New Standards for Insulation

  • The homes you rent out must have ceiling and underfloor insulation
  • If you are installing new insulation, it must meet the Building Code standard that was introduced in 2008
  • If the properties in your portfolio already have ceiling and underfloor insulation, you have to ensure it is a minimum of 120 millimetres thick

The New Standards for Ventilation

  • Kitchens and bathrooms in the houses you rent must have extraction fans
  • Extraction fans must also be fitted to any other room that has a shower, bath, or cooker
  • Your rented properties must have windows that can be opened in all bedrooms as well as the living room, dining room, and kitchen

The New Standards for Moisture and Drainage

  • If any of the homes in your portfolio have an enclosed subfloor space, you must ensure there is a moisture barrier installed
  • The drainage, downpipes, and guttering in the homes you rent must be effective enough and in a good enough condition to stop water from getting into the house

The New Standards for Draughts

You must make every effort to stops draughts in the houses you rent out. This includes:

  • Blocking up unused fireplaces and chimneys
  • Fixing or blocking gaps or holes in walls, doors, floors, windows, and ceilings

Your Responsibilities

Remember, under the new rules, it’s your responsibility to demonstrate your properties meet the new standards whenever you start a new tenancy agreement or renew an existing one.

What Should You Do Now?

The first step is to assess the properties you currently own to determine the work required to bring them up to the new Healthy Homes standard. A property management company like us at Oaks Property Management can be instrumental in this process, ensuring you properly prioritise and plan.

You may also need to reassess your current investment strategy. The direction of travel for legislation in regard to rented properties is going only one way, so you need to make sure your investment strategy is in alignment.

The best advice is to speak to an expert today to ensure you stay on the right side of the law while still maximising your yield.

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