What is a ‘healthy home’ standard? 

by | May 30, 2023 | Uncategorized

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The healthy homes standards aim to close the quality gap between rental properties and owner-occupied homes, so the nearly 600,000 households that rent in New Zealand have warmer, dryer places to call home. 

According to the New Zealand Government, a healthy home is one that is warm, dry, and well-ventilated. In 2019, the government introduced the Healthy Homes Standards, which set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress, drainage, and draught stopping in rental homes to improve the health and well-being of New Zealanders. 

1. Heating standard 

To meet the heating standard landlords must provide one or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living room in a rental property. Heaters can’t be an open-fire or an unflued gas heater, they must be fixed and not portable. In most cases, acceptable heaters include a heat pump. It should be capable of maintaining a temperature of at least 18°C in the main living area during the winter months. 

2. Insulation standard 

Ceiling and underfloor insulation are compulsory in all rental homes where it’s possible to be installed. The healthy homes standards split New Zealand into three climate zones and each zone has different insulation requirements. The ceiling and underfloor of a healthy home must be insulated to a certain level to retain warmth and prevent moisture from entering the house. 

3. Ventilation standard 

To combat mould and dampness caused by poor ventilation, rental homes must have windows that can open in the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms. Kitchens and bathrooms must have extractor fans. A healthy home should have sufficient ventilation to remove moisture and improve indoor air quality. 

4. Moisture ingress and drainage standard 

Moisture can be a large source of dampness in a home. Dampness might not only lead to health issues for tenants, but it can also be destructive to property. Rental properties must have efficient drainage for the removal of stormwater, surface water, and groundwater. If a rental property has an enclosed sub-floor space, a ground moisture barrier must be installed if it’s possible to do so. A healthy home should have adequate moisture ingress and drainage to prevent dampness and mould growth. 

5. Draughts standard 

Fixing draughts can help reduce heating bills for tenants and keep rental properties warm and dry. Landlords must make sure their property doesn’t have unreasonable gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, skylights, floors, and doors which cause noticeable draughts. All unused open fireplaces must be closed off or their chimneys must be blocked to prevent draughts. A healthy home should be draught-proofed to prevent cold air from entering the house and warm air from escaping. 

When do I have to act? 

Landlords who don’t meet their obligations under the healthy homes standards are in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. They may be liable for exemplary damages of up to $7,200. So when must you comply with the healthy homes standards? 

1st July 2021: All boarding houses. 

1st July 2024: Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, and registered Community Housing Provider houses. 

From 1st July 2021 to 27th August 2022: Private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy. 

From 28th August 2022: Private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply within 120 days of any new or renewed tenancy. 

1st July 2025, all rental homes must comply with the healthy homes standards. 

How do I take advantage of the grants? 

The ‘Warmer Kiwi Homes’ grants can help you with up to 80% of the total cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation and up to 80% of the cost of an approved heater (such as a heat pump). 

The first thing to do is check your availability, click here for the EECA tool that has all the information you need. 

Whether you qualify or not, we can provide you with a heat pump quote for either you the landlord to approve for us to install, or you the tenant to pass onto your landlord for consideration. 

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