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  • Writer's pictureF.B.I

Bob Weaver - 10 Minutes

Healthy Homes Standards

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act was passed in 2017 and the new standards have recently been announced. The idea of these standards is to improve the quality of rental properties around New Zealand. Theses standards will increase costs for many landlords and this will inevitably have the effect of increasing rents. The plus side is that there are very many rental properties around the country that do reach an acceptable standard. The requirement of a warm, dry and healthy home!

From 01 July 2021 private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply with these standards with 90 days of any new tenancy or ant renewal of tenancy. By 01 July 2024 all rental properties must comply.

So let’s have a look at these new standards one by one.

1) Heating

All rental properties must have a fixed heating device in the main living area capable of warming and maintaining the room up to 18 degrees centigrade. So firstly, you will need to ascertain the main living area and then work out the heating capacity required to bring this room up to the minimum temperature. There is a heating assessment tool on line or a heating professional can give you guidance.

The heater must have a heating capacity of at least 1.5kw. It must be fixed and if an electric heater or heat pump it must have a thermostat. You can have a wood burner but not an open fire or an unflued gas or combustion heater. There are other conditions to numerous to mention. The act also requires heaters to be maintained regularly.

2) Insulation

By 01 July 2019 all rental properties should now have been insulated in the roof and underneath if possible, to do so. That is a min of 70mm of ceiling insulation and rate rating value of 1.3R value underfloor. We are just about at a stage where this has now been done. Amy landlords who have not complied may be subject to a $4,000 fine.

3) Ventilation

The main purpose of ventilation is to target mould and dampness in the homes. These are one of the major causes of sickness in rental properties. So all rental properties must have openable windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. Kitchens and bathrooms must have extractor fans.

In each of the rooms the size of the openable windows, doors or skylight must be at least 5% of the floor area of the room. They must also be able to remain in a fixed position.

In the kitchen ( any room with a cook top) any new fan or rangehood installed after 01 July 2019 it must have a minimum diameter of 150mm or an exhaust capacity of 50 litres per second.

In the bathroom (n any room with a bath and or shower) must have an extractor fan and any fans installed after 01 July 2019 have a minimum diameter of 120mm or an exhaust capacity of 25 litres per second.

4) Draught Stopping

Landlords must ensure that the property does not have any unreasonable gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, skylights, floors or doors causing noticeable draughts. All unused open fireplaces must be closed off or their chimneys blocked up. Draughts under doors has been a particular issue. This legislation will assist the tenant to keep the property warm.

5) Moisture Ingress & Drainage Standard

Rental properties must have efficient drainage for the removal of storm water, surface water and ground water. Properties with an enclosed sub-floor must have a ground moisture barrier. The drainage system must include gutters, downpipes and drains for removing roof water.

A ground moisture barrier is basically a polythene sheet to stop damp rising.

From 01 July 2019 landlords need to do the following

Comply with the insulation legislation.

Landlords must sign a statement of intent to comply with the healthy homes standards in any new, varied or renewed tenancy agreements. This is in addition to the insulation compliance statements.

These matters will be signed off on your behalf by your property manager.

Tenants liability for damage

On the 27th of August 2019, the following amendment came into force for the Residential Tenancies Act. If a tenant or their guests damage a property as a result of careless behavior the tenant will be liable for the damage up to a maximum of four weeks rent or the landlords insurance excess whichever is lower.

The tenant’s liability for intentional damage still stands.

Landlords can now test for methamphetamine in rental properties while a tenant is living there by giving at least 48 hours notice, the landlord must tell the tenant that they are doing the test and share the results with the tenant. You cannot do the test by stealth.

Landlords from 27 August 2019 now need to provide a statement in any new tenancy agreement about whether the premises are insured and if so what the relevant policy excesses are. The landlord must provide a copy of the policy if requested to do so. Noncompliance of not providing this information could result in a $500 fine.

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