Decoding the new Healthy Homes standards

Decoding the new Healthy Homes standards

As of July 1 this year, all New Zealand landlords must ensure their rental properties have the right ceiling and underfloor insulation, as per the current requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act. In addition to this, there are new Healthy Homes Standards being introduced over the next few years.

Even if you’re planning to stay in your home once you finish renovating, it makes financial sense to protect your investment, by ensuring your home meets the new tenancy requirements while you’re completing any building activity. While you plan your renovation or new build, bear in mind the below standards, as having them all ticked off will no doubt be a selling point in future.

The Healthy Homes Standards, which come into effect for private rental properties on July 1, 2021, are:

Heating – Rental homes must have fixed heating devices in living rooms, which can warm rooms to at least 18°C during the coldest days of winter. In most cases, you will need a larger device such as a heat-pump or wood-burner. If you have a small apartment, a smaller fixed electric heater will be sufficient. The minimum recommended size of the small fixed heater is 1.5 kilowatt.

Insulation – Rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation which either meets the 2008 Building Code, or (for existing ceiling insulation) is at least 120mm thick. If you’ve installed new insulation since 2016, it should already meet the 2008 Building Code, so you won’t need to do anything further when the Healthy Homes Standards take effect. However, if your property already has ceiling insulation which is only 70mm thick and underfloor insulation, then a top-up to 120mm insulation will be required.

Ventilation – Rental homes must have the right size extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms, and opening windows in the living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms. This means all bathrooms and kitchens need to have mechanical extract ventilation, as well as opening windows in other habitable rooms.

Moisture and drainage – Rental homes must have efficient drainage and guttering, downpipes and drains. If a rental home has an enclosed subfloor, it must have a ground moisture barrier if it’s possible to install one.

Draught-stopping – This one seems obvious, but you can’t have any unnecessary gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors, and doors that cause noticeable draughts. All unused chimneys and fireplaces must also be blocked.

The Government is developing an online tool to help you work out what changes you’ll need to make to meet the new standards. In the meantime, the New Zealand Green Building Council has also developed an online tool to help you work out what you may need to do to ensure your home is warm, safe and dry. You can check it out here.

To find out more about the new Healthy Homes Standards, click here.