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New Zealand’s healthy homes standards came into law last July 2019. It was introduced by the government to set the minimum standards for rental homes in NZ, specifically focusing on heating, insulation, moisture, and drainage. Private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy. These standards help landlords ensure that their properties are safe and healthy, which in turn, keeps their maintenance costs low and affordable.
The healthy homes standard ensures that rental properties are as good as owner-occupied properties, elevating the living conditions of as many as 600,000 renters in NZ. These standards help improve their overall health, which means lower medical costs and fewer hospitalisation trips overall. To check if your rental property meets the standard, inspect the following criteria, and see for yourself:
As per the healthy homes standards in NZ, rental properties must provide fixed heating devices capable of meeting a minimum of 18°C in the living room alone. This is mostly due to the fact that many rental homes often fall below the recommended 18°C indoor temperature by the World Health Organization (WHO). In order to meet this standard, rental properties often need to rely on larger devices such as a heat-pump, wood burner, or in the case of small apartments, portable electric heaters.
Wood burners are cheaper, but depending on the setup, could be slightly more inefficient and they do have some adverse environmental effects. Heat pumps may be more efficient, but may not be the best option when moving a lot. It all depends on your needs.
Rental homes must now comply with the minimum standard thickness of insulation as per the 2008 Building Code. Existing insulation needs to be at least 120mm thick, minimising heat loss. As such, changes to this standard no longer affects older rental properties that have installed insulation that meets the 2016 standards. This is enforced for new properties entering the market.
Proper ventilation is necessary to prevent respiratory issues and most importantly, to prevent mould from building up inside the rental property. Mould can cause a whole host of illnesses, such as worsening asthma. It could also get into walls, fixtures, and a tenant’s possessions, leading to high repair or replacement costs. Mould tends to gather in areas with high moisture levels such as showers and kitchens, so keep this in mind when looking at ventilation options.
As per the healthy homes standards in NZ, rental properties must include openable windows and doors, especially in the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedrooms. It’s recommended to open windows for a good 10 to 15 minutes each day, in order to allow sufficient ventilation to waft into the room. In the event that this isn’t possible (i.e. night, security, and winter), landlords could install mechanical ventilation systems, like an extractor fan.
Rental properties need efficient drainage, guttering, downpipes and drains in order to adequately protect the property from rising moisture levels, or from water pooling in the house through leaks and other damages. Keep in mind that moisture may also enter from the outside, thus requiring even more barriers such as a ground moisture barrier, in case the property has an enclosed subfloor.
Draughts are currents of air within buildings that can make its occupants feel cold and uncomfortable. It’s uncontrolled and thus, differs from simple ventilation in that it’s unwanted air. This could lead to difficulties for tenants trying to heat up their homes, wasting a lot of electricity in the process.
To comply with the healthy home standards, landlords need to seal any unreasonable gaps within the property. This is done by patching up holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors, and even doorways. The healthy homes standard details reasonable thresholds for draughts, depending on the building, so it pays to check them in order to remain compliant.
By July 2024, it’s expected that all rental homes must be compliant with the healthy homes standards in NZ. Landlords who fail to do so may be liable for a financial penalty, which could really eat into their profit margins. They need to take sufficient measures in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of their tenants, for a stronger community.
While landlords must ensure their rental is compliant, safeguarding personal effects and belongings are still the tenants’ responsibility. Unexpected incidents like fires or thefts can be pretty costly, so it helps to be on the safe side by taking out a renters insurance policy. The best part about this is, it doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you shop around and compare policies. Try out our comparison tool today and pick your preferred policy with the right cover you need.
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