Getting Prepared: The Healthy Homes Standards Timeline

17 April 2020

The new Healthy Homes Standards were first announced in 2019, ramping up landlord obligations for rental properties in New Zealand. As we get closer to the second stage of the legislation’s rollout, it’s important that investment property owners understand the standards and any actions they need to take to comply with them. To help you get prepared, we’ve put together a comprehensive timeline sharing all of the key dates you need to be aware of as a rental property owner, and what is required from you at each stage.

It’s a good idea to first understand why this law is important. Nearly 600,000 households in New Zealand are rented and research tells us definitively that Kiwi rental properties are in poorer quality than owner occupied homes. By ensuring all properties meet key indicators of home quality and safety, homes not only become cheaper to keep warm and dry but also healthier for tenants to live in. Tenants will experience improved health, as well as lower medical costs and lower levels of hospitalisations, leading to a safer and healthier country for everyone.

Warmer and drier homes are also less likely to have issues with mould or mildew damage, better protecting a landlord’s investment. In one recent news story, Housing New Zealand reported spending an additional $10,000 to rectify the damage in a state home caused by condensation and subsequent mould. Equipping your property with proper ventilation, drainage and insulation could help you save big in the long run.

 

The key elements of the new Healthy Home Standards are:

  • Insulation 
  • Heating 
  • Ventilation 
  • Moisture ingress and drainage
  • Draught stopping

It’s important to note that compliance with the Healthy Homes Standards will be the responsibility of the property owner. As a landlord, this may feel like a lot of effort that’s not necessarily benefiting you. However, these standards were created to benefit all parties. Aside from preventing mould, dampness and consequential costs, making your home more comfortable can encourage longer tenancies. Extended tenancies mean less vacant time, fewer marketing costs and less stress for you when the lease renewal rolls around.

Now, let’s talk about financials. The exact cost of these new standards being implemented will vary from landlord to landlord, depending on a property’s characteristics (size, age, condition), and the amount of work required to bring each home up to the minimum requirements. Regardless of whether any work is done, landlords will need to keep records of how they are complying with the Healthy Homes Standards. These records must be available to the tenant and the property’s status of compliance must be declared in any new tenancy agreement.

 

The Timeline

We’ve created a Healthy Homes Timeline to help you understand what deadlines require which actions.

 

1 July 2019

Landlords should have:

  • Installed ceiling and underfloor insulation in all rental homes (where it is practicable)
  • In any new, varied or renewed tenancy agreements from this date, landlords must have signed a statement of intent to comply with the Healthy Homes Standards going forward in order to reassure tenants the new requirements will be met. 
  • This statement is in addition to the existing requirement of including a signed insulation statement with all tenancy agreements that covers what insulation the property has, the condition of the insulation, where it is and what type. 
  • Landlords must have records that demonstrate compliance with any healthy homes standards that apply or will apply during the tenancy.

 

1 July 2020

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

 

1 July 2021

Private landlords must ensure their rental properties comply with the Healthy Homes Standards within 90 days of any new, or renewed, tenancy. 

All boarding houses (except Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) and Community Housing Provider boarding house tenancies) must comply with the Healthy Homes Standards.

 

1 July 2023

All Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) houses and registered Community Housing Provider houses must comply with the Healthy Homes Standards.

 

1 July 2024

The absolute deadline. ALL rental homes, with fixed and periodic tenancies, must now comply with the Healthy Homes Standards.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the key dates you need to be prepared by, we’d advise getting started as soon as possible.

Top tips for getting your property prepared

 

Firstly, check if your property is exempt.

You don’t want to be stressing over additional changes if you are already up to the standards. If you’ve made any property upgrades recently (for example, installed new insulation during the past three years to comply with legislation that was introduced in 2016), your property should already meet the 2008 Building Code. This means that you won’t need to do anything further to meet insulation requirements under the Healthy Homes Standards. However, some homes may need to be ‘topped up’ to meet the new requirements so it’s worth checking your property against the standards to see if you’ve missed or need to refresh anything.

Aside from this, there are three broad exemptions.

  1. If you have plans to demolish or extensively rebuild your rental property, you may be exempt from meeting the Healthy Homes Standards compliance dates for up to 12 months.
  2. If you have just bought the property and the previous owner has immediately become your tenant (for example if they are living in the home while they search for a new one), you may be exempt from meeting the compliance dates of the Healthy Homes Standards for up to 12 months.
  3. If you do not own the entire building (for example if your rental property is part of a greater structure, such as an apartment in a block of flats), you may be partially exempt from Healthy Homes Standards.

 

Give yourself a budget of cost and time

Assess how much it will cost to make the necessary renovations to your property to fulfil the Healthy Homes Standards. Also assess approximately how long it should take.  When you set a start date to begin your renovations, give yourself some buffer time to ensure you have leeway before the Healthy Homes Standards deadline – Murphy’s Law says that if you leave it down to the wire, you’re bound to face last minute obstacles.

 

Get a professional inspection by a certified building inspector

Get the inspector to check your property against the insulation, heating, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught stopping standards at once to avoid any costly repeat visits. It’s advisable to have this assessment before purchasing any materials or heating solutions to avoid any surprises!

 

Record everything

This includes any assessment reports, calculations and invoices for work. You may need this down the line if a claim is made!

 

Do your homework

The best way to get prepared is to get educated. The second stage of the Healthy Homes Standards rollout is fast approaching. With that in mind, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help property investment owners get prepared for the new requirements. You can download this for free from our online Knowledge Centre.

 

A final reminder

From 1 July 2020, all landlords will be required to include a statement in any new, varied or renewed tenancy agreements, detailing their current status of compliance with the standards. If you have any questions regarding your rental property and the Healthy Homes Standards, please get in touch with your Property Manager at your local Quinovic branch.

Check out our free eBook for more advice on how to prepare your property for the Healthy Homes Standards. Any questions? Get in touch!

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