Property Management General Manager Celia Burbery discusses the progress of the Healthy Homes Standards and some questions we have been receiving from landlords.
We are out of the gates on this interesting and sometimes complicated journey towards Healthy Homes Regulations. With our own internal processes in place and well underway, we are working with landlords daily to meet the range of measures the government has brought in to improve rental accommodation standards. Whilst most of the media headlines so far are around insulation and heating, that’s just two of the five areas which landlords need to comply with, there is also drainage, draught stopping and moisture ingress.
These requirements have a stage by stage compliance timeframe, firstly by 1 July 2020 this year all new or renewed tenancy agreements will need to include specific and prescribed information about how the landlord complies or is non-compliant (shown with a property assessment report). By 1 July 2021, all private landlords need to have fully completed any remedial work required to meet the new five standards.
Allow me to address the elephant in the room, we are very aware of the frustration and pain this is causing some of our landlords, we sincerely recognise that and believe me, the team feel it too. You are not alone in your dismay at the extent of some of the new regulations that appear nonsensical however, as your property partner it is our duty to be the messenger of your obligations and to provide you with the best possible advice and support services to meet your obligations.
Allow me to address several common concerns in Q & A:
My property is up to the standards of the Building Code, so my property will already meet the healthy homes standards right?
Maybe…if you meet the requirements of the most recent building code, you MAY meet most of the healthy homes standards however not necessarily all of them. We have been advised that the new regulations ‘trump’ the building code, which as absurd as it may seem is the reality we are presented with. We appreciate that owners of newer homes are perplexed as they may well have chosen homes with double glazing and facing the sun; we can only imagine that the government predicted that not all new homes will be built to the same high quality standard and hence, placed these requirements on everyone and exceeded the building code in doing so.
Nevertheless, the healthy homes standards are enforceable. We have been advised that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment which is the governing body, are reviewing and revisiting aspects of the building code that do not align with the new legislation and will potentially raise those standards to match them.
How will I know if the current heating provided is sufficient for the performance requirement of 18 degrees?
Our professional assessors use several measurement qualifiers including the online Heating Assessment Tool developed by Tenancy Services that calculates the required capacity of a heater in kilowatts. This tool will provide a kilowatt figure while considering other variables of the property such as the size of the room, size of walls, information about the insulation, and windows. This tool also can provide a printout that that can be used to show compliance with the heating standard.
What if I have already installed a heater in the living room?
It’s all about heating output, if the device meets the requirements as per the online tool then that should reach compliance. If not, don’t rush to replace it as it may just need supplementing with another form of an approved heater to top it up, more information on this can be found on the Tenancy Services website here: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes/heating-standard/
My property has a wood burner and tenants have advised it’s already lovely and warm, why do I need compliance?
Again, it’s all about the output, many woodburners have a label stating their heat output and this contributes to the property assessment for the standards compliance. Alternatively landlords can check the manufacturer’s information or council records for information on the heat output of their woodburner. If the output is unable to be established then compliance will be hard to achieve. Don’t be thrown by kindly advice from Council staff who may advise you that you already qualify, we have already found they are often misinformed, just trust us.
I have already met the 2016 RTA insulation requirements so why is there now new healthy homes standards?
The healthy homes standards increased the minimum level of existing ceiling insulation from 70mm to 120mm thick. If a rental home has less than 120mm of insulation in the celling space or the insulation is not in reasonable condition, the home may well require an insulation ‘top up’. It’s unfortunate for landlords and property managers that the government raised the bar on insulation after the RTA requirement, but the change is now legislation which we must follow.
My rental property already has an extractor fan in the bathroom and/or kitchen, I don’t need to do anything else do I?
Any extractor fan installed before 1 July 2019 must now under the Healthy Homes standards ventilate to the outside of the house. This may be addressed by installing an extractor fan in the window pane itself and leaving in place what is already there, this will meet the ‘ventilate outside’ requirement.
Any new extractor fan installed after 1 July 2019 needs to be ventilated to the outside of the house plus meet the size or performance requirements.
So, here at APM we can see the light at the end of the tunnel as our Property Managers slowly work our way through these multiple processes for all our landlords.
We are meeting with our chosen providers regularly to stay ahead of any new issues as they arise. Remember, this is new for everyone involved, landlords, property managers, and service providers so as is our usual approach we are working daily on a slow by steady procedure, and meeting all the needs of our clients at every new turn.
General Manager – Property Management
Auckland Property Management
If you have any questions about the Healthy Homes standards and your property’s compliance levels, get in touch with us today on the below form.