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Healthy Homes Standards for Rentals Announced

Some changes to insulation under the new Healthy Homes Standards for NZ rental properties.

The coalition Government has just announced the new standards that apply to their Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill that they passed during their first 100 days.

Given the 2016 amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act has already required that all rental properties must have ceiling and underfloor insulation where possible, substantial changes in the new Healthy Homes standards was not expected.  There are however changes.

The new standard requires that ceiling insulation must either meet the 2008 Building Code or (for existing insulation only) have a thickness of 120 mm as a minimum. 

Under the 2016 RTA amendment existing ceiling insulation 70 -120 mm thick was acceptable.  If any top-up is required it must be topped up to the 2008 Building Code level.

How many Rentals are affected? and by when?

The BRANZ Housing Condition Survey 2015/2016 suggests that up to 26% of rental properties at that time had between 70 and 120 mm of ceiling insulation although a proportion will may have topped up to a higher level since.

There is some time relief for these affected rental properties however.  The regulations set in 2016 still come into force on 1 July 2019 however the new standard for homes where existing insulation is 70 - 120 mm only come into force progressively from 1 July 2021.  With each new Tenancy Agreement after July 2021 - landlords have 90 days to comply with all 5 of the new Healthy Homes Standards.  Should there be no change of tenancy agreement then the deadline is 1 July 2024.

While you're Underfloor  ... moisture barrier

The level of underfloor insulation required for rental properties has not changed however one of the new standards is the inclusion of ground moisture barrier to reduce rising damp.  This vapour barrier is most cost-efficiently installed while also doing your underfloor insulation. 

The 5 Healthy Homes Standards

  1. Insulation: Ceiling and underfloor insulation is required in line with the 2016 amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act with the standard for ceiling insulation rising such that it must either meet the 2008 Building Code or (for existing insulation only) have a thickness of 120 mm as a minimum.
  2. Heating:  A healthy, energy efficient fixed heating device must be fitted in the living area with that device being capable of warming the room to 18°C on the coldest day of winter.  The government is to make an online tool available to evaluate options/requirements.
  3. Ventilation: Kitchens and bathrooms must be fitted with appropriately sized extractors and kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms must have open-able windows to allow ventilation.
  4. Drainage and Moisture Ingress: Efficient drainage  is required as mandated by the Housing Improvement Regulations plus underfloor ground vapour (moisture) barrier is required wherever there is an enclosed sub-floor.
  5. Draught-stopping: The must be no gaps or holes in walls/ceilings nor around doors or windows.

New Healthy Homes Standards Deadlines

  • From 1 July 2019 all rental must meet the ceiling and underfloor insulation standards set in 2016.
  • From 1 July 2021 rentals must comply with all five of the new Standards within 90 days of a new or changed tenancy agreement and all homes must be compliant by 1 July 2024.