The healthy homes standards (HHS) became law on 1 July and landlords will need to start preparing to ensure that rental properties comply by the due dates, which begin on 1 July 2021.

Ceiling and underfloor insulation is now compulsory in all rental homes, where it is reasonably practicable to install. It must comply with the regulations and be safely installed.

Insulation statements have been compulsory with all new tenancy agreements since 1 July 2016. Landlords are also now required to provide an additional separately signed statement with all new, renewed, or varied tenancy agreements, confirming that they intend to comply with the healthy homes standards by the appropriate deadline.

A landlord who fails to comply with the regulations will be committing an unlawful act and may be liable for exemplary damages of up to $4,000.

Landlords may be eligible for help from their local council. A number of councils allow homeowners to add the cost of insulation to their rates and pay it back over about nine years.

An online heating assessment tool and guidance documents are now available on the Tenancy Services website to help landlords calculate the heating requirements of the heating standard.

The new standards are as follows:

Heating

There must be fixed heating devices that can directly heat the main living room to a maintained temperature of at least 18 degrees Celsius. Some heating devices are inefficient, unaffordable or unhealthy and will not meet the requirements under the heating standard.

Insulation

The minimum level of ceiling and underfloor insulation must either meet the 2008 Building Code, or (for existing ceiling insulation), have a minimum thickness of 120mm.

Ventilation

Ventilation must include windows that can open in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. Also an appropriately sized extractor fan or fans in each room with a bath or shower or indoor cooktop.

Moisture Ingress and Drainage

Landlords must ensure efficient drainage and guttering, downpipes and drains. If a rental property has an enclosed subfloor, it must have a ground moisture barrier if it is possible to install one.

Draught Stopping

Landlords must stop any unnecessary gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors that cause noticeable draughts. All unused chimneys and fireplaces must be blocked.

Compliance Timeframes

From 1 July 2021:

  • Private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply with HHS within 90 days of any new tenancy.
  • All boarding houses must comply with the HHS.

From 1 July 2023:

  • All Housing New Zealand and registered Community Housing Provider houses must comply with the HHS.

From 1 July 2024:

  • All rental homes must comply with the HHS.

Visit www.tenancy.govt.nz for more information on the Healthy Homes Standards.