The government’s new Healthy Homes Standards (HHS) for rental homes became law on 1 July 2019. The standards set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture & drainage and draught stopping.
We are actively working to ensure all our landlords are aware of the standards and the compliance timeframes, which state that all privately-owned rental properties must comply with the HHS within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy from 1 July 2021.
The updated heating requirements are expected to be among the biggest changes for landlords to address following the compulsory insulation of all rental properties that came into effect on 1 July 2019. As of 1 July 2021, the main living room must have at least one fixed heater, or a heater that provides heat directly to the living room e.g. a duct or vent, that can heat the room to at least 18°C year-round and maintain this temperature during the coldest days of winter.
Some existing heaters will not meet the efficiency requirements in the regulations, and it isn’t enough to provide a portable heater – they must be an approved type, fixed to the wall or floor and have a thermostat. The requirements are customised to each property and take into account the features of the home that affect the ability to heat the room – features such as insulation, double glazing and window size are all considered.
In certain circumstances, existing heating can be ‘topped up’ with electric heating. This is when existing heaters were installed before 1 July 2019, each heater has a minimum heating capacity of 2.4kW, the heaters meet the general requirements outlined in the legislation and the combined total heating capacity is at least 90% of what is required.
There are also some exemptions: if a property is purchased and immediately rented back to the previous owner-occupier the exemption applies for a period of up to 12 months; or if the landlord intends to demolish or substantially rebuild parts of the property within 12 months and has applied for resource or building consent; or if access is required to a part of the building they do not own and cannot get permission for installation, for example from the Body Corporate. Where permission is required, the landlord must be able to prove they have taken all reasonable steps to ensure the property complies as much as possible.
While the onus is on landlords to meet the HHS, the Cowdy property management team is knowledgeable on the HHS regulations and can help landlords determine what the most appropriate heating solution is for their rental properties. We are encouraging landlords to start preparing for the new legislation now, rather than waiting until 2021. There is a complex set of requirements that may need longer timeframes to address, especially for older properties.
For example, the ventilation standard requires extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms as well as openable windows or doors to make up at least 5% of the floor area of each habitable space in a house, while properties with enclosed subfloor spaces must now also have an on-ground moisture barrier. Gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors must also be draught-stopped.
We can arrange an assessment of your property to check whether it is currently compliant or provide a quote for works required to meet the new standards. We are also negotiating deals with suppliers which we will pass on to landlords.
We are in favour of renters being able to enjoy warm, dry and healthy homes and our property managers are more than happy to discuss the HHS with clients at any time.