If you own a rental investment then you are sure to have heard of the Healthy Homes standards which passed into law on the 1st July 2019. The governments reasoning for the standards was to stop the rising number of rental homes that were maintained at a poor standard and to help the increasing number of families being admitted to hospitals every year around New Zealand with preventable illnesses caused by poor housing conditions. As we spend a lot of our time in our homes, the quality of housing and the indoor living environment is an essential component towards our health and well-being.
The standards can seem an overwhelming announcement for many landlords as in many cases there will be some non-budgeted maintenance work to be carried out on their properties. However long term this can have many advantages.
The positive outcome for landlords, is that once the standards are implemented, landlords will see less maintenance needed in the long-term as their properties will be less prone to such things as moisture damage and mould. This is a positive payoff and will not only add value to the rental home but will also mean avoiding any fines which may be issued. Plus, happy and healthy tenants are more likely to stick around and pay rent on time - avoiding the cost of new occupants.
Since the first deadlines that saw landlords needing to have all their rental houses insulated, some landlords have been taken to the tribunal for not complying with these rules. Failure to meet the insulation requirements is an unlawful act under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 and landlords may face fines of up to $4,000 for failure to comply.
Here is a link to a case where a landlord has had to pay tenants $1500 for not hitting the insulation deadline.
From the 1st July 2020 all new or renewed tenancy agreements are required to include a statement detailing their current level of compliance with the Healthy Homes standards. A generous amount of time will be given for property owners to get the work done, either through professional tradespeople or by doing it themselves to a tradesman like standard. The cut-off date for this work is; within 90 days of a new tenancy from 1st July 2021, with a final cut off date of July 1st 2024 if you were lucky enough to have kept your tenant for this period of time.
As a refresher, the Healthy Homes Standards (HHS) stated by the Ministry of Urban Development are:
Rental homes must have fixed heating devices in living rooms, which can warm rooms to at least 18°C. Some heating devices are inefficient, unaffordable or unhealthy, and they will not meet the heating standard requirements.
Using a small heater in a large room won't make the grade so ensure you're fitting the correct heater for the size of the room and that drafts or leaks don't enable the heat to escape.
Rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation which either meets the 2008 Building Code, or (for existing ceiling insulation) is at least 120mm thick.
Rental homes must have the right size extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms, and opening windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms.
Moisture and drainage
Rental homes must have efficient drainage and guttering, downpipes and drains. If a rental home has an enclosed subfloor, it must have a ground moisture barrier if it’s possible to install one.
Rental homes must have no unnecessary gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors, and doors that cause noticeable draughts. All unused chimneys and fireplaces must be blocked.
Here at McDonald Real Estate, 95% of the properties under our management have had Healthy Home assessments carried out and we are working to have the reports issued to our landlords in the up coming months. It is important for us to make sure that all properties in Taranaki managed by us are compliant by the deadlines. This means that our landlords are not only protected from being fined but also the tenants we place are in homes that are safe and healthy.
If you would like to know more about the Healthy Homes legislation we have developed the 'Landlords Ultimate Guide to understanding the Healthy Homes Standards'. It also includes a handy compliance checklist. You can view it by clicking here or on the graphic below.
According to Real Estate Investar, Taranaki region has a population of 109,583 and 29.31% of its occupants live in rental accommodation. If you are a landlord and unsure if your rental complies with the current and also the up and coming regulations feel free to contact our property management team. We are happy to help answer any questions you may have and also get your rental property on track to being identified as a Healthy Home.