In February 2019 it was estimated by the Housing Minister that around 200,000 families lived in rental homes that were not up to standard.
With house prices in New Zealand constantly on the rise, renting is often the only option for families.
However, with high demand for housing, the standard of living has dropped causing New Zealanders to live in unhealthy environments and putting health at risk.
In order to address these concerns, new standards have been put in place, to improve the quality of all rental homes, including boarding houses and, ultimately, all government and registered community housing providers.
Now that the new Healthy Homes Standards have been finalised by the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019, all rental property owners were rushing to meet the required standards before the approaching deadline date of July 1.
Under the current requirements, insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes, where it is practical to install. In order to comply, the ceiling and underfloor of all rental homes (including farming accommodations) must be insulated.
If you have installed new insulation in your rental properties since 2016, then you should already comply with the new requirements.
However, not all rental homes can be insulated, so naturally, there are some exceptions. These relate to accessibility and construction constraints.
If the construction of the house makes it physically impossible to insulate or would require the whole house to be renovated to install insulation, then you may be exempt from these regulations.
An exemption is also likely if there is no way to safely access the roof or under the house in order to complete the insulation.
In order to qualify for an exemption, landlords will need to obtain written confirmation from an experienced professional insulation installer, stating that insulation is not possible and the reasons why.
This is to be included in the tenancy agreement to ensure that tenants are aware that the rental home does not meet the insulation standard.
It will also be compulsory for all new tenancy agreements to include insulation statements.
An insulation statement consists of a separately signed statement that discloses whether the home is insulated, where it is insulated, what type of insulation is used and what condition it is in.
If you own a rental home and it was not insulated before July 1, 2019 (and it is possible for you to do so), you can expect to be fined up to $4000 for not complying with the new insulation regulation.
The new regulations will then continue to be rolled out over the next few years with all rental properties being required to meet the new standards for heating, ventilation, drainage, and draught stopping by July 1, 2021.
In order to meet the new standards the following must be completed:
• Heating: A heating device should be fixed in the living room of every rental home and be capable of heating rooms to at least 18C.
• Ventilation: Extractor fans must be placed in kitchens and bathrooms and there must be at least one opening window in each room to provide proper ventilation.
• Moisture and drainage: All homes must have efficient drainage, guttering, downpipes and drains. Ground moisture barriers must also be installed if possible if there is an enclosed sub-floor.
• Draught stopping: All unused chimneys and fireplaces must be blocked and there must be no unnecessary gaps or holes in the walls, windows, ceilings, doors or floors.
From July 1, 2021 all landlords must ensure they meet the standards within 90 days of the beginning of a new tenancy.
All boarding houses must meet the standards by July 1, 2021 and all properties provided under Housing New Zealand and other registered housing providers will have to meet all standards by 1 July 2023.