July 1st saw some significant law changes come into effect in New Zealand including a plastic bag ban, a new petrol tax, an increase in paid parental leave entitlements as well as changes to the Residential Tenancies Act.
From this date it is now compulsory for all rental properties to have compliant ceiling and underfloor insulation (where it is reasonably practicable to install). In addition to this, new Healthy Home standards also came into law, creating specific and minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, moisture ingress and drainage in rental properties. Private landlords have until July 1, 2021 to ensure rental properties comply with the standards, while Housing NZ and other social housing providers have another two years.
The Healthy Homes Standards (HHS) are:
Heating – 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.
Insulation – 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.
Ventilation – 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.
Draught-stopping – 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.
Overall, this is a positive change, and it will lift the standards of rental properties across the country. However; the reality of the new regulations could be quite daunting for landlords, and the costs involved to bring all the properties up to standards.
If you are thinking of investing into the property market and purchasing property as a rental, to help you make an informed decision it is a good idea to investigate as to what level, if at all, a property is currently insulated as well as considering what work (if any) will be required to bring the property up to Healthy Home standards.
For more information about the Healthy Homes standards check out this handy guide at: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes/ or pop into our office and have a chat with one or our friendly property managers.
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