Here are the options being considered by the Government as part of the healthy rental homes proposal.
The heating requirement does not change, with landlords needing to provide a form of heating in the main living room. The draft requirements attempt to plug some of the holes that have been left historically and clarify what form the heating must take. There are two options being considered. The first is a requirement to heat the living area only. The second requires the living area and bedrooms to be heated.
The standard sets a temperature that a heat source must be able to reach and maintain in the living room space.
This temperature is yet to be finalised and will be either 18 or 20 degrees Centigrade. Where the space is open plan the entire area including the kitchen would need to meet the required temperature.
Options being considered are whether the heating sources will be fixed devices or portable, or if there will only be a requirement for a fixed heating source where a single portable heater can’t achieve the required heating standard. The types of heating deemed to be acceptable would be: heat pumps, wood burners and flued gas heaters.
Of course, for the benefits of the installed heating to be gained, tenants will still need to utilise what has been installed and be able to afford the bills. However, the Government wants to at least provide tenants with the option to heat their homes effectively should they choose to do so.
Insulation requirements for residential rental properties were introduced with an amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act in 2016. All properties must comply with these standards by July 1, 2019, so it seems strange to be talking about insulation again. The Government has three options that they are considering in relation to insulation as part of the Healthy Homes proposal. The first is to continue with the status quo that has been implemented under the 2016 RTA changes. The two other proposals look to increase the levels required under the Act depending on the property’s location and aligning with the requirements of the 2001 Building Code (Option 2) or 2008 Building Code (Option 3).
We hope that common sense prevails and that they continue with the requirements set down in the RTA Amendments 2016. Upgrading insulation to this point has been a huge effort and burden on the industry and a large cost to owners.
Many New Zealand rental homes are currently poorly ventilated, leading to dampness and mould. Mould can lead to poor health outcomes for tenants. The Government is looking at extractor fans being required in all bathrooms. This would reduce moisture and mould in the home. A second option goes beyond the bathroom to make kitchen extractor fans compulsory along with bathroom fans.
Where there is an external wall, installation should be relatively low cost however where bathrooms are in the middle of a property costs are likely to be much higher.
Moisture Ingress and Drainage
The aim of the proposal is to protect tenants against moisture entering the home and inadequate drainage. This could entail the installation of a ground moisture barrier if vents are not adequate, and drainage must be efficient.
Homes need to be well-ventilated to remove moisture and prevent condensation from building up. However, uncontrolled draughts let heat escape and let cold air in. Draughts can make it hard and expensive for tenants to heat their homes and can limit the benefits of improved insulation and heating.
The proposal is for the landlord to block any decommissioned chimneys and fireplaces, and fill any unnecessary gaps or holes that:
- cause noticeable draughts and a colder rental home, and
- are 3 millimetres or greater in and around windows and doors, walls, ceilings, floors and access hatches.
This is largely an issue in older homes. We would hope that an inexpensive solution using a product such as “No more gaps” would be acceptable.
Consultation is open until October 22, 2018. To make a submission on the proposed changes please visit the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development website here.
Regulations will come into force from July 1, 2019. They are likely to be phased in over a period of up to 5 years to allow for owners to plan for the financial impact, train the industry on the new standards and help ease the demand on suppliers.