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As a landlord, there are certain obligations and legal standards that you must meet. One such obligation is compliance with the healthy homes standards. These standards came into effect on 1st July 2019, and require all rental properties to meet certain minimum standards in regards to:

  • heating;
  • insulation;
  • ventilation;
  • drainage; and
  • draughts. 

If you fail to comply with these standards, you may be subject to a case in the Tenancy Tribunal and a hefty fine. This article will outline the standards that you have to comply with as a landlord in New Zealand.

Heating Standards

The healthy homes standards require you to install one or more fixed heaters that can heat the main living room in your rental properties. The main living room will tend to be the largest room in your rental property that is used for everyday living, such as:

  • the lounge;
  • the family room; or
  • the dining room. 

This heater must:

  • be fixed and not portable;
  • meet the minimum heating capacity required for that space. You can calculate this capacity using the Heating Assessment Tool on the Tenancy Services website
  • be of an acceptable type. An acceptable type will typically be a larger fixed heating device, such as a heat pump; and
  • be able to heat the main living room to a temperature of 18 degrees on the colder days of the year. 

Exceptions

You are not required to comply with these heating standards if it is not reasonably practicable to install a heater. This is an exemption to most healthy homes standards. If will not be reasonably practicable if a professional installer cannot access the area required to install the heater without:

  • carrying out substantial building work;
  • causing severe damage to the rental property; or
  • creating serious risks to anyone’s health and safety

You are also exempt from complying with the heating standards if your rental property is a certified passive building. 

Insulation Standards

You are required to install ceiling and underfloor insulation in all of your rental properties. This insulation must meet the R-value specified for the region of New Zealand that your rental property is in. An R-value is a value used to measure the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value is in your region, the better your insulation has to be. You can find out the R-value of the insulation you have in your rental property by:

  • checking the packaging of the insulation;
  • measuring the thickness of the insulation yourself; or
  • consulting with a professional insulation installer.

Exemptions

There are three exceptions to the insulation standards. You will not be required to install insulation that meets these standards if:

  • access required to install the insulation is impracticable or unsafe;
  • there is existing underfloor insulation that was previously installed when the property was first built or converted; or
  • the floors or ceilings have other habitable premises directly above or below them.

Ventilation Standards

Your rental property must have adequate ventilation. The property must have:

  • openable windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms; and
  • an extractor fan in the kitchen and any bathrooms with a shower or bath. 

Exemptions

You are not required to comply with the ventilation standards if it:

  • is not reasonably practicable to put an extractor fan in the kitchen or bathroom of your rental property; or
  • was lawful to have windows that could not open when the property was first built or converted into a habitable space.

Drainage Standards

Your rental property must have effective draining to remove: 

  • stormwater;
  • surface water; and 
  • groundwater. 

To meet these standards, you must also be able to remove water from the roof of your rental property through:

  • gutters; 
  • downpipes; and
  • drains. 

If your rental property has an enclosed subfloor, you will also have to install a ground moisture barrier. However, you will only have to install a barrier if it is reasonably practicable to do so.

Draught Stopping Standards

Under the healthy homes standards, your properties must be in a reasonable state of repair. You are obligated to ensure that the property does not have any noticeable draughts due to  unreasonable gaps or holes in the:

  • walls;
  • ceilings;
  • windows;
  • skylights; 
  • floors; and 
  • doors. 

These gaps include unused fireplaces or chimneys. You are obliged to close off or block any unused fireplaces to prevent draughts. 

You are not entitled to use your rental property’s age or condition as the reason for failing to repair or fill any gaps. 

Record Keeping 

In conjunction with these standards, you also must keep hold of any healthy homes standards records. You must keep these records throughout the duration of the tenancy and for a 12-month period after the tenancy ends. These records include:

  • code compliance certificates;
  • calculations of the main living room’s heating capacity;
  • receipts from builders, tradespeople or building materials used to meet the standards;
  • the Land Information Memorandum (LIM) or building reports that indicate compliance; and
  • photos of the changes made to the property.

Key Takeaways 

As a landlord of a residential property, you are required to ensure that your property complies with the healthy homes standards. You must meet the requirements on:

  • heating;
  • insulation;
  • ventilation;
  • drainage; 
  • draughts; and
  • record-keeping.

If you are unsure if the healthy homes standards apply to your property, contact LegalVision’s New Zealand property and leasing lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the healthy homes standards?

The healthy homes standards are standards that all rental properties must meet to ensure the property is warm and dry. 

What is the heating standard?

All rental properties must have one or more fixed heaters that can heat the main living room to 18 degrees. 

What is the insulation standard? 

All rental properties must have ceiling and underfloor insulation that meets that region’s insulation requirements.

What is the ventilation standard?

All rental properties must have an extractor fan in the kitchen and bathrooms and openable windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. 

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