by Colleen Topping, Home and Co
If you are a landlord or a tenant, then there are some important dates coming up that you should be aware of. Last year the Government implemented regulations requiring all rental properties to meet a new set of Healthy Homes Standards (http://bit.ly/NZHHs). From December 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021, the regulations will come into play with substantial penalties for those who don’t comply. If you are planning to continue renting your property from 1st December, 2020 onwards then this legislation applies to you.
The Healthy Home Standards covers six aspects of a property, which all contribute to a warm and dry home including: Insulation, Heating, Ventilation, Draught Stopping, Moisture Ingress and Drainage.
From December 1, 2020 (the deadline was moved from July 1 to December 1 in response to COVID-19), all new tenancies and renewals of tenancies signed on or after this date must have a complete Healthy Homes Statement covering all areas of the legislation.
The statement outlines how a rental property measures up against the Healthy Homes Standards. This compliance statement must be included with the tenancy agreement so tenants know what steps their landlord is taking towards meeting the Healthy Homes Standards. A renewal or new tenancy cannot be signed without a complete statement.
From July 1 next year, all new tenancies and renewals in private rental homes will have to fully comply with the new Healthy Homes standards within 90 days of the start of the tenancy or renewal. That gives the landlords times to rectify any issues or shortfalls in the standards identified in the original compliance statement.
What you need to know
- Failure to comply with the regulations will be considered a serious breach of a landlord’s responsibilities under Section 45 of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA). At present, the maximum fine for exemplary damages is $4,000 per breach. Failing to provide Healthy Homes information may incur a fine of between $1,000 and $2,000.
- What evidence needs to be collected and retained? Section 40 of the RTA states that “A landlord must retain sufficient relevant records or documents as reasonably provided (sic) evidence of the landlord’s compliance with the Healthy Homes Standards in relation to the tenancy”. This can include building consents, records of building work done by professionals, inspections, photos or videos, product manuals, e.g., for heat pumps or log burners, receipts and invoices.
- The Tenancy and Compliance Investigation Team has the power to seek proof of compliance and tenants are also permitted to request evidence of compliance. In other words, you want to make sure you have complied with the standards on time or you risk being audited and fined.
- We strongly recommend landlords complete their Healthy Homes compliance report now. That way if there are any changes, improvements or upgrades required, you will be ready by 1st July 2021. The statement to be completed is 13 pages long (and is available on the Tenancy Services website) plus there are specific calculations to be done to show the heating capability of the living room. Don’t forget to keep those calculations as part of your evidence! Here’s a handy tool to help with your calculations: http://bit.ly/heatingtool
Engaging an independent assessor to complete the report will undoubtedly save you time and gives you the assurance and protection you need to comply with the law changes.