Healthy Homes Legislation – From the 1st December 2020

This states that ALL landlords must include a statement of their current level of compliance with the Healthy Homes Standards in any new, varied or renewed tenancy agreement.

In-time, the Healthy Homes Standards shall require all rental properties in New Zealand to comply with specific regulations regarding heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and, draught stopping.

s45 of the Residential Tenancies Act now reads as follows:

The landlord shall –

(a) Provide the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness; and

(b) Provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair having regard to the age and character of the premises and the period during which the premises are likely to remain habitable and available for residential purposes; and

(ba) comply with all requirements in respect of smoke alarms imposed on the landlord by regulations made under section 138A; and

(bb) comply with the healthy homes standards; and

(c) comply with all requirements in respect of buildings, health, and safety under any enactment so far as they apply to the premises …

Failure by a landlord to comply is declared to be an unlawful act, and liable for an order of exemplary damages of up to $4,000. This is likely to increase as reforms around exemplary damages are also likely to be passed this year.

Goodwins appointment to complete assessments – Rental Rental WOF

Following more than a year of research, during which we closely considered managing assessment in-house; we also scrutinised countless submissions; and, our General Manager personally interviewed many of the both established, alongside a selection of newly formed inspection companies.

Goodwins decision has been made to exclusively appoint NZ Rental WOF Limited to inspect every property we manage.

A full link to NZ Rental WOF’s website is as follows: https://nzrentalwof.co.nz/about

NZ Rental WOF founder, Sonia Thom, is setting the standard for all landlords to aspire to and we sincerely believe will give property managers and landlords a market advantage for prospective tenants to use when selecting a home, in the future.

NZ Rental WOF offers a common-sense approach to auditing rental properties and is based on a criterion that has considered results of all Government and Regional National Trials, to one that is practical and achievable. The Report walks through every room in the house and addresses not only all areas of the Healthy Homes Standards, but more.

Every statement shall be supported by photographic evidence to demonstrate compliance.  This is critical given the Tenancy and Compliance Investigation Team’s power to seek proof of compliance.

NZ Rental WOF not only assesses the current 5-point tick-check on heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and, draught stopping; but, will also future-proof further questions of energy efficiency, and to confirm full compliance of your property/s to all current Health and Safety obligations.

NZ Rental WOF issue both a STAR and HIVES Ratings, which both outline opportunities to further showcase your property when next selecting tenants.

Supported by NZ Rental WOF, our confidence is further enhanced to guide all clients of Goodwins calmly through the myriad of changes currently challenging our industry.

Costs & Timings

We are very pleased to have secured Goodwins’ clients a negotiated fee per property of only $320 plus GST (with a reduced fee if multiple properties are on one site). Closely reviewing all fees, we were presented; this is exceptional value.

All inspections will be completed by a licensed builder and/or suitably qualified professional, and we have the assurance that every property under management with Goodwins will have a compliance statement filed ready for the first notification deadline of 1 December this year. You will receive a full copy of the report.

We are confident that this appointment will not only provide an advantage to our clients now, as required works are assessed; but, moving forward will deliver a genuine marketing-advantage when properties become vacant for re-advertising.

In-turn, your property will both attract and retain a higher quality of long-term tenant, you can expect reduced repair and maintenance expenditure, and, in-time stronger rental returns.

Frequently asked questions

The answer is Yes.

Speaking frankly, it is unfortunate that the government adopted such a staggered, stop-start approach to settling on the final set of standards. This has meant multiple assessments, already, as you met earlier compliance deadlines relating to the install of smoke alarms and insulation.

However, the government has now imposed the Healthy Homes Standards on all New Zealand landlords to produce precise information in a format that the legislation dictates. The detail as to what is required includes specific formed statements that must include evidence (photographs and documents) to show the current level of compliance for each of the 5 areas of the Healthy Homes Standards.

MBIE has put together a National Compliance Team to investigate and audit non-compliance of the Standards and there are extensive fines being imposed for non-compliant properties.  This includes not having the right statements and checks in place.  These fines can be leveraged against both the owner and the property manager.  This is certainly a part of the reason why we made decision to employ an independent company to carry out our audits, on your behalf – To ensure we are not seen to be bias in any way should there be any issues with the property, or, with the way tenants are living in your property You can rest assured that this independence will deliver ten-fold if ever a tenant should seek to make claim for proof against a landlord.

To assess if a property meets standard (given the calculations and requirements) is not as simple as checking if something is there or not. For example – the correct form of heating requires a number of factors being calculated, age of property, floor area, wall sizes, windows etc and these are all entered into a heating calculator to decipher what is the acceptable form of heating allowed; and, for insulation, the auditors are also required to provide photographic evidence and measurements that not only has insulation both in ceilings and underfloor been installed as per the manufacturers’ instructions; but, to ensure it has not become wet, or disturbed by rodents, or other problems that can occur over time.

Put-simply, we are not resourced to meet current requirements of Health and Safety legislation to be asking our staff to climb into ceilings and underfloor. To become so, and, allocate the necessary staff numbers, and time to each assessment would have cost a huge amount more than the assessment and report fee negotiated per property with NZ Rental WOF.

That being $320.00 plus GST with discounts available when multiple properties are on one site.

You will then please need to provide us with evidence that your property complies with the Healthy Homes Standards for the satisfaction of Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and in the event the tenant or courts require evidence of such compliance.

Required Evidence consists of:

  • Healthy Homes Statement – this needs to be completed for your property
  • Heating Assessment and Calculation: As per Healthy Homes Standards
  • Photographic Evidence and Reporting to back up the information provided for each of the 5 standards.

You are, of course, welcome to arrange this independently; and, we please just need close contact from you in these regards.

We certainly want no client to feel undue pressure, as these requirements are worked through.

There is much more in the requirements of the Healthy Homes Standards than insulation and heat pumps:

  • Ground moisture barriers
  • Range-hoods & extractor fans (in all bathrooms) all ducted to outside with correct ducting and extraction capacity
  • Adequate drainage around the property
  • Minimum ventilation in rooms (window opening area) in comparison to room size
  • Draught stopping if and where required.

This will all be required to be evidenced that it meets the standards, how the data was collected (along with how the area heat loss was calculated) and be outlined in all future tenancy agreements in a statement. Information will need to be evidenced and updated on a regular basis (with special note that it is Goodwins’ intention, in-time, and wherever possible that this process of update will be managed in-house).

There will be a detailed report issued after the inspection is completed and your property manager will forward this to you, for discussion on any areas of non-compliance, or, concerns the report may highlight.

From 1 July 2021 all private rentals must comply with the healthy home standards within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy; and, from 1 July 2024 all private rentals must be compliant.

However, it is important to remember that all rental properties must comply now with the Residential Tenancy Act which states:

The landlord shall –

(a) Provide the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness; and

(b) Provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair having regard to the age and character of the premises and the period during which the premises are likely to remain habitable and available for residential purposes; and

(ba) comply with all requirements in respect of smoke alarms imposed on the landlord by regulations made under section 138A; and

(bb) comply with the healthy homes standards; and

(c) comply with all requirements in respect of buildings, health, and safety under any enactment so far as they apply to the premises