If we showed you five photos of five different houses. Would you know which ones complied with New Zealand tenancy law? In New Zealand, all landlords and tenants have rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act). A rental property must meet compliance guidelines set out by the Act and the Healthy Homes Standards.
Some people mistakenly assume that older homes are more likely than new builds to have compliance issues. In fact, the age of a home is not often a determining factor. What matters most is the knowledge of tenancy law and the Healthy Homes Standards that the property owner or landlord has (and their willingness to comply).
We’ve even seen brand new builds fail compliance checks because builders have missed steps or have tried to take short-cuts. Ultimately, as a landlord, you are responsible for making sure your property is compliant before renting it.
The Copo checklist for getting your property ready to rent
The following list will give you a good overview of what compliance includes. However, if you have specific questions that you’d like us to expand on in a future article. Please let us know so we can provide you with more useful free information.
There are five key areas involved with compliance:
All rental properties must have one or more fixed heaters. The fixed heaters must directly heat the main living room and meet a required heating capacity.
Specific things to look for: The size of the heater/heat pump or the number of heaters/heat pumps must be sufficient for the size of the area to be heated. In addition, the heater(s) must be fixed (not portable). Check that there are sufficient, compliant smoke alarms wherever needed.
Ceiling and underfloor insulation are compulsory in all rental homes. Where it is reasonably practicable to install.
Specific things to look for: Old ceiling insulation may need to be topped up or replaced if it is not in a reasonable condition or isn’t thick enough for the current standards. Therefore, check if there are ceiling lids for access to any part of the ceiling or floor lids to access any part of the subfloor. Possibly in a wardrobe or under outside decks.
Rental properties must have at least one door or window (including skylights) that opens to the outside in all bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, lounges and kitchens. All kitchens and bathrooms must have an extractor fan that ventilates externally.
Specific things to look for: The openable windows and doors must have a total area of at least 5% of the floor area in each respective room. The windows or doors must be able to be fixed in the open position.
Moisture ingress and drainage
Rental properties must have efficient drainage to remove stormwater, surface water and groundwater, including an appropriate outfall. The drainage system must include gutters, downpipes and drains for the removal of water from the roof.
Specific things to look for: If the rental property has an enclosed subfloor. You must install a ground moisture barrier if reasonably practicable. Make sure the gutters are clear of leaves and grass growing in them. Check whether the pathways surrounding the property need to be tidied or water blasted to clear away slippery moss.
Landlords must make sure the property doesn’t have any unreasonable gaps and holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors that cause noticeable draughts. All unused open fireplaces must be blocked unless the tenant and landlord agree otherwise.
Specific things to look for: Gaps (particularly in older homes) allow air into and out of a home, making it harder to keep warm. To meet the draught stopping standard, you need to block any unreasonable gaps or holes that allow draughts into or out of your home.
Some properties may be exempt from some of the rules. (For example, where there are access issues, a pending application for a resource or building consent, etc.). Our advice is always to check with Tenancy Services for clarification. Or give us a call at Copo, rather than assuming you’re compliant.
Copo Property Management
If you’re interested in getting your property ready as a rental. Please feel free to get in touch with us at Copo for an initial no-obligation check. We can give you our initial recommendations, an idea of possible rent value and refer you to reputable trades you may need to help pass a healthy homes assessment.