As of 1st July 2019, the new Healthy Homes Standards(HHS) for rental properties in New Zealand became law. These new regulations have been prepared to provide tenants with a healthier, warmer and drier home,while at the same time protecting the landlord’s investment in the long run. These new regulations follow on from previous insulation and smoke alarms requirements. But how will they affect you and what do you need to know?
Essentially, there are five parts to the Healthy Homes Standards, for some properties they may already meet many or all of the requirements, however, for others they may require some amount of work to bring them up to the required standards. So, let’s quickly get into those requirements and see where they leave your property.
Following on from the previous insulation requirements that came into force as of 1 July 2019,many properties will already be up to the new Healthy Homes Standards.Properties that had their insulation installed before 1 July 2016 however, may not meet the new standards. The HHS requires ceiling insulation to be a minimum of 120mm thick and the underfloor to have a resistance value of 1.3 regardless of when it was installed. Therefore, some properties that were compliant under the Smoke Alarm and Insulation Regulations 2016 will need to have their insulation topped up or replaced, depending on their current condition, to comply with the HHS.
The second aspect of the HHS requires rental properties to have one or more fixed heaters.The heater needs to directly heat the main living area to 18°C and be able to preserve this temperature all year round.
Without getting into the minor details regarding the requirement for ventilation, the basic necessity is that each room in the property have at least one door or window that opens to the outside. In addition to this, extractor fans that ventilate externally are to be installed in all bathrooms and kitchens.
Subsequently, all unreasonable gaps throughout a property that result in obvious draughts are to be blocked, this includes fireplaces unless there is a prior agreement between the tenant and landlord.
Lastly, an efficient drainage system needs to be present. This involves the removal of storm, surface and ground water and must incorporate gutters, down pipes and drains for the removal of water from the roof. For properties where it is feasible a ground moisture barrier will need to be installed beneath the house.
As with all things there are some exemptions and for further information on these please see www.tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes/exemptions-to-the-healthy-homes-standards/.
So, when is all of this expected to be completed? Well,from 1 December 2020, all landlords need to provide a statement in any new, renewed or varied tenancy agreements illustrating the current HHS compliance of the property.
From here, the next phase comes into effect from 1 July 2021, as of this date all new,renewed or varied tenancy agreements will have 90 days to comply with the HHS.The final date of 1 July 2024 is when all properties are required to meet the HHS.
From this it can be seen that there is still some time before the final compliance is due and depending on when there is a change of tenants some properties will have more time than others to bring their properties up to the required standards. Given the current COVID-19 situation these dates and requirements may well change but for now it would be best to prepare for the HHS to commence as planned and embrace the changes towards improving the quality of rental homes throughout New Zealand.
For more information please visit the Tenancy Services website on https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes/.