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How the Healthy Homes Standards are Going to Affect You

By Tamara Willis

The healthy homes standards, now incorporated into the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019 are 12 months from being fully instigated. We have been ensuring our landlords start now, taking the critical steps necessary to comply before the 1 July 2021 deadline to avoid exemplary damages. As from 1 July this year, it will be mandatory for all property managers to append the home’s current healthy homes statement of intent to all our tenancy agreements and
fixed-term renewals to ensure we are pre-empting the imminent changes. Best Property Management has already begun this process.

Healthy Homes Standards – what are they exactly?

The standards a renter can expect in their rental home have been under scrutiny for a number of years. Historically, New Zealand homes have been found to fall well outside World Health Organisation imperatives for ambient indoor temperatures in winter and summer creating needless health problems for the home’s occupants. The Ministry of Housing and Development has said that these new standards will “make it easier for renters to achieve warmer, drier homes, helping to reduce mould and damp and the potential for associated health conditions.” As a landlord you have an obligation to comply, thereby adhering to the standards, and more importantly a duty of care for your tenants and their families. The healthy homes standards fall into 5 categories:

Ventilation

Your rental property must have windows that can be opened in all habitable spaces – living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms with kitchens and bathrooms also having extractor fans. Windows must also be at least 5% of the room’s total floor area. This ventilation requirement is a significant step toward addressing mould and dampness. More about the ventilation standard can be found here. We can help you to arrange the installation of any ventilation equipment your rental property requires under this standard to ensure that your tenants are living in a properly ventilated and damp-free home.

Heating

A fixed thermostatically controlled heating device must be installed, capable of reaching a minimum temperature of 18 degrees C in all living rooms. Tenancy Services have an online assessment tool to set out the guidelines around accurately meeting the criteria for this standard. From this, a calculation will determine the minimum kw capacity needed in your property to comply. At Best Property Management we can liaise with you on having the correct heating appliance installed in your rental property.

Insulation

A well-insulated home has a raft of benefits for your tenants, improving living conditions, and mitigating maintenance work and the costs associated with dampness that may occur in the property. Primarily, insulation stops heat escaping from the house and the flow-on effects of this are savings in costs of power and a drier atmosphere, thereby making the interior less prone to mould.
Check with Best Property Management or get information from Tenancy Services to learn more about the required level of insulation for your rental property. Known as an “R-value” this measurement of resistance to heat-flow determines the effectiveness of the insulation. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

Moisture Ingress & Drainage

Dampness and moisture inside a home leads to poor health for the occupant and can adversely impact on property maintenance. This standard refers to drains and drainage, guttering, and downpipes at your rental property. If it’s feasible, all rental properties with an enclosed sub-floor space will need to have a ground moisture barrier in place to prevent damp from rising and affecting the home above. This is considered one of the most efficient value-for-money solutions to keeping your rental property free from damp. We are available to discuss options and arrange for this work to be carried out as well as assessing your need for an appropriate drainage system of gutters, downpipes and drains to remove rainwater from the roof.

Draught Stopping

An unstopped draught in the home will lower temperatures and force a tenant to spend more on power attempting to heat your rental property. Draughts creep in through gaps and holes in walls, ceilings, windows, skylights, floors and doors – if a $2 coin can fit into a gap – it needs attention. Open fireplaces are notorious for causing cool air to enter a room and these should be closed off or blocked by an appropriate tradesperson. Talk to us at Best Property Management if your rental property has a fireplace and we can ascertain if it has any draughts and/or gaps that need to be addressed. Conversely, tenants can ask for a fireplace to be operational – and you can agree but it must be draught-free. For compliance under this standard, it’s our job to ensure that gaps are stopped, keeping tenants warm, dry and comfortable in their home.

We’re here to help with any queries you have regarding the new healthy homes standards. It’s in all our best interests at Best Property Management to uphold the standards so that we have happy, healthy tenants living in a home that is well-maintained. For more information call us for a chat about your rental property and how to make sure you are compliant with the healthy homes standards by the deadline date.


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