Federated Farmers is concerned with the Healthy Home Standards' tight compliance deadlines for farmers and private landlords writes Philippa Rawlinson, Federated Farmers Policy Advisor, Industry.

Amongst its many other priorities, the Coalition Government has committed to making rental accommodation warmer and drier for tenants.

The Healthy Home Standards, originally consulted on last October, is one of the tools being used to ensure landlords improve the standard of rental accommodation.

There are a series of standards relating to heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping.

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In its October submission, Federated Farmers was supportive of some of the proposed Standards but questioned the proposals for draught stopping and the practicality of installing a moisture-proof barrier.

Read more from Federated Farmers here.

Fishhooks remain in the final version of the Healthy Homes Standards announced by Housing Minister Phil Twyford recently, and Federated Farmers will continue to monitor how this unfolds.

While the draft standards contained guidance on what constituted a draught (a gap of 3mm or more) there is no detail in the Standards released by Minister Twyford.

Does this mean the Minister will announce a series of measures which relate to draught and then recalibrate with more achievable measures? I doubt it.

But we approach dangerous territory when a measure of draught was proposed for public consultation but officials have been left to design and decide what the official measure will be.

Ministry of Housing and Urban Development officials had concerns about the capacity and capability of the building sector to meet these ambitious targets and advised a compliance date of 1 July 2022.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Housing Minister Phil Twyford. Photo / Mark Mitchell

But the Minister has taken the "sooner rather than later approach" for private landlords and introduced a compliance date of 1 July 2021 for all new tenancies, with a delayed compliance date for Housing New Zealand and other public housing providers.

As some farm tenancies change more frequently, for most farmers they will need to check their rental accommodation first complies with the new Standards and if not, retrofit to ensure they do comply by 1 July 2021.

Federated Farmers is not broadly opposed to the Healthy Home Standards, but the relatively tight compliance deadlines for farmers and private landlords are a concern.

Are there enough tradespeople to handle the workload? And how will farmers cope with another cost when farm incomes are being substantially squeezed in a time of rollercoaster prices for commodity products?