Healthy homes standards
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.
About the standards
The Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019 became law on 1 July 2019, with the aim of addressing issues with cold, damp, drainage and draughts in rental properties.
The regulations include minimum standards for:
- moisture ingress (dampness) and drainage
- draught stopping.
1 July 2021
From this date, private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply with the healthy homes standards within 90 days of any new tenancy.
1 July 2021
All boarding houses must comply with the healthy homes standards.
1 July 2023
Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, and registered Community Housing Provider houses must comply with the healthy homes standards.
1 July 2024
All rental homes must comply with the healthy homes standards.
See more details about compliance timeframes on the Tenancy Services website(external link).
The heating standard was amended in May 2022, to reflect the fact that new homes built or renovated to the 2008 building code requirements for insulation, glazing and some apartments have higher thermal performance. The changes mean that smaller heaters are generally sufficient to provide the warmth required in such types of homes.
To work out what size heater is needed, landlords can use Tenancy Services’ heating assessment tool. Heating Assessment Tool » Tenancy Services(external link)
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 (if it has a thermostat), wood burner, pellet burner, or flued gas heater. In some cases, such as in small apartments, a smaller fixed electric heater may be enough.
Find out more about the heating standard(external link) – Tenancy Services
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. See the zones on Tenancy Services(external link).
Insulation requirements are measured by R-value, which is a measure of how well insulation resists heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation. The R-value will be clearly shown on the product packaging.
Any newly built or renovated property that is compliant with the updated 2021 Building Code insulation requirements will be compliant with the healthy homes insulation standard. Landlords who've installed new insulation since 1 July 2016 are likely to already meet the healthy home's standard if the insulation is in good condition.
Tenancy Services has an online tool for landlords to calculate if they're likely to need to upgrade or replace their insulation to meet the healthy homes standard.
Exemptions to the insulation standard
There are three specific insulation exemptions:
- Access is impracticable or unsafe. Some areas of some homes may not be safe or practical to reach, due to the design of the house, potential to cause damage, or health and safety reasons.
- Partial exemption for certain underfloor insulation. If a property has underfloor insulation that was installed when the house was built or converted and is still in reasonable condition it may be exempt. Landlords will need to produce compliance documents like a code compliance certificate or certificate of acceptance.
- Ceilings and floors with other habitable spaces directly above or below.
Poor ventilation can lead to mould and dampness problems and be harmful to both a tenant’s health and a landlord’s property.
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.,
The ventilation standard was updated in May 2022 to allow the use of continuous mechanical ventilation which extracts to outside kitchens and bathrooms, if the ventilation system received building consent on or after 1 November 2019.
Moisture ingress and drainage
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. If installing a ground moisture barrier isn’t possible, landlords don’t have to install alternative moisture barriers.
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.
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.
Most new or renewed tenancy agreements must include a compliance statement that has specific information about the rental’s current level of compliance with the healthy homes standards.
In most cases, private landlords and boarding house landlords must ensure that their rental properties meet healthy homes standards within 90 days of any new tenancy. Private landlords of new homes built to the 2008 building code requirements for insulation and glazing and apartments have a revised deadline to meet the heating standard. Their 90-day compliance period doesn’t start until six months after the heating standard changes came into effect 12 May 2022.
Kāinga Ora and registered Community Housing providers have until 1 July 2023 to comply.
All private rentals must comply by 1 July 2024.
Monitoring implementation of the healthy homes standards
In 2020, we commissioned a series of surveys of renters and landlords, to help HUD and the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) monitor the implementation of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act (HHGA).
These surveys are designed to track the awareness of and compliance with the healthy homes standards through a yearly online survey of renters and landlords from across the country.