Healthy Homes Standards – What You Need to Know

On the 1 July 2019, new rules came into place in New Zealand that impact both landlords and the roughly 600,000 people who live in rented properties. The rules are known as the Healthy Homes Standards.

The property management company you use in Auckland should have expert knowledge of tenancy law in New Zealand, so will be able to give you direct advice. You can contact us at Oaks Property Management if you need further help.

That said, it’s also important that you have an understanding of the new rules. Let’s answer some specific questions including:

  • Why are the standards being introduced?
  • Who do the standards apply to?
  • What are the new standards?
  • When do they come into force?

What Are the New Standards Being Introduced?

Since 2017, New Zealand has had a legislative framework aimed at improving the standard of rented properties in the country. The goal is to make rented homes warmer and drier to improve comfort levels for tenants, reduce their heating costs, and ensure homes are healthy to live in.

After all, cold, damp, and draughty homes can cause serious illnesses as well as being unpleasant.

Who Do the Standards Apply To?

Private landlords, Housing New Zealand, and providers of social housing must all ensure the properties they rent out conform to the new standards.

As tenants live in the affected houses, they are also impacted by the new rules. Specifically, tenants currently living in properties that fall below the new standards should see improvements as their landlords carry out upgrade work.

What Are the New Healthy Homes Standards?

The new Healthy Homes standards fall in into five main categories:

  • Heating
  • Insulation
  • Ventilation
  • Moisture and drainage
  • Draughts

Heating

The new standards require all rented properties to have a fixed heater capable of heating the main living room of the house to 18 degrees Celsius. That said, if the heating device is inefficient, costly to run, or is unhealthy, it won’t meet the new standard even if it is capable of heating the room to the required temperature.

Insulation

Rented homes must also have ceiling and underfloor insulation. The specifics of the standards depend on whether there is currently insulation in the property:

  • Existing insulation – existing insulation must be at least 120 millimetres thick
  • Newly installed insulation – new insulation must meet the Building Code standard introduced in 2008

Ventilation

Kitchens and bathrooms in all rented homes must have extraction fans. Extraction fans must also be fitted to any other room that has a shower, bath, or cooker.

Furthermore, rented properties must have windows that can be opened in all bedrooms as well as the living room, dining rooms, and kitchen.

Moisture and Drainage

The drainage and guttering in rented properties must be effective enough to stop water from getting into the house. In addition, in rented homes that have an enclosed subfloor space, there must be a moisture barrier.

Draughts

Draughts must be stopped throughout rented houses. This includes blocking up unused fireplaces and chimneys as well as blocking gaps or holes in walls, doors, floors, windows, and ceilings.

When Do the Standards Come into Force?

The new Healthy Homes rules became law on 1 July, but private landlords have until 1 July 2021 to bring their properties up to the required standard.

Summary of the Standards

As you can see, the standards centre on preventing moisture from building up in homes as well as ensuring homes can be efficiently and effectively heated. When the rules are in full effect, the standard of rented properties in New Zealand will improve.

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