According to the Government’s new Healthy Homes Standards (HHS), owners of older rental homes with long-term tenants will have until 1 July 2024 to bring them up to scratch. And if a new tenancy starts after 1 July 2021, a rental property must comply with the standards even sooner – within 90 days of the new tenant moving in.
For those who fail to meet the deadline, the consequences can be serious; not only can the Tenancy Tribunal issue a work order to force landlords to bring their properties up to HHS compliance, they can also hit landlords with financial penalties of up to $4,000 for any affected tenants. That’s a hefty sum. What’s more, the requirements – and cost – to get homes up to scratch can feel rather daunting.
Insulation - Ceiling and Underfloor
To begin with, landlords need to adhere to the Residential Tenancies Act, which require rental properties to have ceiling and underfloor insulation that’s at least 70mm thick (and in good condition) as at 1 July 2019. HHS states that insulation in all rental properties should be at least 120mm thick (by 1 July 2024 for existing ceiling insulation or after 1 July 2021 for new tenancies). They should also meet the 2008 Building Code, which outlines the energy efficiency requirements for homes, dependent on their location and climate zone in New Zealand.
So, properties that may comply under the Residential Tenancies Act, with ceiling and underfloor insulation, may not be compliant under HHS – and will still need to be upgraded. Luckily for most properties, the standards can be straight forward to meet – and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
If you’re renovating an older rental home, there are a range of options, including the environmentally (and cost effective) Knauf Earthwool glasswool, Mammoth polyester and Autex Greenstuff polyester.
Considering economical, durable and energy efficient insulation that meets the 2008 Building Code (and is straightforward to install) is key. That’s why Earthwool glasswool is worth looking into. As a sustainable product with excellent thermal and acoustic performance, it keeps homes warm in winter and cool in summer.
To meet the new standards, rental homes must have fixed heating devices in living rooms, which can warm rooms to at least 18°C. Think heat pumps for the most efficient way of using electricity, and ensure it’s the right size to heat the main living room to at least 18°C. For colder climates, a gruntier model of heat pump can perform effectively down to minus 15°C or consider a fire place ( wood burner) - but just make sure it is authorised for your area by the ministry of environment.