Complying with the Healthy Homes standards

Niall Heeran, managing director of Copo, spoke about Healthy Homes at the recent Wellington Property Association Meeting.He pointed out the fact is, many rentals, new builds included, often don’t meet the healthy homes compliancy rules. Niall highlighted three standards that landlords often miss before putting their investment on the market: Heating, insulation and draught stopping standards.

We put together a handy summary of these three key areas to help your rental property meet the healthy homes standard.

Heating standard

“ A landlord must provide one or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living room. The heater(s) must be acceptable types, and must meet the minimum heating capacity required for your main living room.”

According to the standard, the main living room is the largest one in the home that is used for everyday living, such as the lounge, dining room or family room. The heater must be fixed and have at least 1.5 kW in heating capacity. The Heating Assessment Tool lets you calculate the minimum heating capacity required for the main living room.

The most commonly accepted heaters are heat pumps, wood burners, pellet burners or flued gas heaters. Only in smaller spaces, such as apartments, would a small fixed electric heater be enough. If you have existing heating, you aren’t required to add new ones if they already meet the standard.

Ensuring that your tenants have a comfortable and warm place to live in is a requirement that all landlords have to meet and will also add value to your property!

Insulation standard

Ceiling and underfloor insulation have been compulsory in all rental homes across New Zealand since 2019. The Healthy Homes standard builds on this requirement to ensure that all homes stay warm and dry even during the colder months.

Insulation keeps the warm air inside the house and prevents it from escaping, thereby reducing heating costs, humidity and mould within the property.

Depending on your rental’s location, the minimum required R-value or a measure of resistance to heat flow differs. Wellington is in Zone 2, which means that the minimum R-value for the ceiling is 2.9, and for the underfloor, it’s 1.3. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

There are a few exceptions to this standard, including if the access is impractical or unsafe, the underfloor insulation has been installed when the home was built and is in a reasonable condition. Most landlords who have installed new insulation since 2016 should already meet the Healthy Homes standard.

Draught stopping standard

“Landlords must make sure the 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.”

Draughts increase the likelihood of lower temperatures and increase heating costs, contributing to difficult living conditions. Doors are often the structures that cause the most noticeable draughts.

As there is no maximum gap, it can be challenging for landlords to know whether they are compliant or not. The Healthy Homes standard website has a handy document that landlords can refer to, to make sure that there are no unreasonable draughts within their homes.

The Healthy Homes standard introduced minimum standards for a range of different aspects of a rental home that properties need to comply with in order to improve the quality of investment properties and solve the issue of the poor living conditions that many tenants experience. All private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 1 July 2021. The standards ensure that landlords have healthier and safer properties with lower maintenance costs.

If you are unsure where to start with renovations on your rental property, get in touch with Copo. We are a property management company that can support your healthy homes compliance and make sure your rental is as healthy and successful as it can be.