About the Healthy Home Standards

The government's proposed Healthy Homes Standards will help create healthier rental properties. The aim is to deliver the greatest benefit to tenants and wider society, without imposing an unreasonable burden and cost on landlords.

Improving the quality of rental properties

One-third of New Zealand households (nearly 600,000) rent, and rental homes tend to be older and of poorer quality than owner occupied dwellings.

Renters have less autonomy to make improvements to their homes than owner occupiers, and maintaining and improving the quality of the dwelling is the responsibility of the owner.

While many landlords appropriately maintain their properties, there are some who don't, leaving tenants living in cold, damp homes.

The Government is committed to improving the quality of rental properties so families/tenants are happier and healthier.

The proposed healthy homes 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.

Let's make rental homes warmer and drier

About the standards

The government's aim is to deliver the greatest benefit to tenants and wider society, without imposing an unreasonable burden and cost on landlords.

A discussion document is available for public comment with more information about each of the proposed standards.

Heating

  • what minimum achievable indoor temperature should heating devices be sized for in rental homes
  • where should heating be located
  • should landlords only be required to provide heating devices where portable electric heaters are insufficient
  • should certain heating devices be not acceptable?

Insulation

  • what is an appropriate level of insulation for rental homes
  • how should the condition of insulation be assessed?

Ventilation

  • what is the appropriate level of ventilation to ensure rental homes have adequate airflow in areas of high moisture?

Moisture ingress and drainage

  • are existing laws for rental homes sufficient to protect against moisture and inadequate drainage, or
  • could regulations better protect against moisture entering the home?

Draught stopping

  • what appropriate measures should landlords take to stop draughts in a rental home?

Smoke Alarms and Insulation Regulations

New requirements for rental homes (for ceiling and floor insulation and smoke alarms) came into force in 2016 under the Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations. Landlords must comply with these requirements by 1 July 2019.

Regulations for insulation and smoke alarms

While the healthy homes standards don't change these obligations (or the deadline to comply with them), the government is consulting on whether more rental homes should have their insulation upgraded.

The impact on landlords

The healthy homes standards apply to all landlords (including both public housing and private landlords).

Once the standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture control, and draught stopping are in place, landlords will need to check whether their rental homes meet the standards.

Some landlords may need to take steps to bring their properties up to the appropriate standards. For example, they may need to install new heating devices or extractor fans in certain rooms.

The cost to landlords will vary depending on the final standards, a property’s characteristics (for example, size, age, condition), and the amount of work required to bring each property up to the minimum requirements.

Exemptions or exceptions to the standards

There may be exemptions in cases where it's not reasonably practicable to meet the requirements, such as where there are access issues that prevent the installation of insulation, or where homes have been specifically designed to meet high quality standards (for example, passive design homes that can achieve an appropriate indoor temperature without heating devices).

Impact on tenants

While compliance with the healthy homes standards will be the responsibility of the property owner, tenants do have an important role to play in keeping their home warm and dry through heating and ventilating appropriately.

Tenants will have the right to inspect their own rental home to ensure it complies with the standards, or they may wish to bring in a third-party such as an insulation, heating or building professional to undertake an inspection.

Compliance with the standards

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, landlords are responsible for ensuring their rental properties are in a reasonable state of repair.

Compliance with the healthy homes standards will be the responsibility of the property owner, and the standards don't place any obligations on tenants.

MBIE’s Tenancy Services Compliance and Investigation team will be able to inspect properties to ensure compliance with the standards. The team’s expanding capacity will enable them to undertake 2,000 risk-based interventions every year.

Landlords that fail to comply with the healthy homes standards may be liable for a financial penalty.

Resolving disputes

If a tenant believes their landlord hasn't complied with the standards, they should first approach their landlord. If the issue is still not resolved, the tenant can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a mediation and/or hearing.

Tenancy Tribunal

The Tenancy Tribunal has the ability to:

  • order a landlord to undertake work, and
  • impose a financial penalty of up to $4,000 that is normally payable to the tenant. 

A landlord can't evict a tenant for raising issues about the standard of a rental property.

Mediation is an opportunity for both parties, with the assistance of a skilled mediator, to come to an agreement to resolve the issue.

MBIE can also investigate suspected non-compliance and take cases to the Tenancy Tribunal when a tenant has not complained.

In serious cases, a tenant may ask MBIE’s Tenancy Services Compliance and Investigation team to investigate.

October 1, 2018

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