In December 2017, the Government passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017, designed to make New Zealand rental homes warmer, safer, and more comfortable. In 2019, the standards were finalised and drafted in the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019.
And while this legislation has been an important step forward for the nearly 600,000 New Zealand households in rented accommodation, it has also increased the pressure on property managers to keep up with stricter compliance requirements.
What are the Healthy Homes Standards?
The Healthy Homes Standards cover five main areas: heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping. Each has its own requirements, which will need to be accurately checked to avoid liability and potential penalties.
Homes must have fixed heating devices that are capable of achieving a minimum of 18°C in the main—defined as the largest—living room. Some devices, which are deemed to be inefficient, unaffordable, or potentially harmful to health, such as unflued gas heaters and open fires, will also not meet requirements under this standard.
You can use this online tool to help determine the heating requirements to ensure living rooms meet acceptable standards. It is based on the room’s size, windows, flooring, ceiling, and other factors, such as heater capacity.
The minimum level of ceiling and underfloor insulation must either meet the 2008 Building Code, or—for existing ceiling insulation—have a minimum thickness of 120mm and be in reasonable condition.
There are some exemptions to this standard, and it will not mean further improvements to insulation installed to meet the existing 2016 requirements. The Healthy Homes insulation standards will govern rental homes that were not required to retrofit insulation under the 2016 requirements.
Under this standard, living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms must have openable windows or doors for ventilation. Rooms with baths, showers, and indoor cooktops must also have an appropriately sized extractor fan installed.
Moisture ingress and drainage standard
This standard is designed to ensure efficient and effective drainpipes, guttering, downpipes, and drains. Under this standard, rental properties with enclosed subfloor spaces must also be fitted with ground moisture barriers if it’s possible to install one.
Draught stopping standard
This standard is designed to ensure there are no noticeable draughts in rental properties caused by unreasonable gaps in holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors, and doors. It also specifies that unused fireplaces and chimneys must be blocked. If fireplaces are in use, they must be in good working order, and free of any gaps that could cause draughts or affect safe and efficient operation.
Healthy Homes compliance deadlines
There are a number of different dates to be aware of, depending on the type of rental property and whether the tenancy is new.
1 July 2021 – From this date, private landlords will need to ensure that their rental properties comply with HHS within 90 days of any new tenancy.
1 July 2021 – All boarding houses will need to comply with the HHS.
1 July 2023 – Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities and registered Community Housing Provider houses must comply with the HHS.
1 July 2024 – All rental homes will need to comply with the HHS.
The case for change
For many agencies, standard compliance items—like smoke alarms and insulation—have been tracked through ad hoc spreadsheets and notebooks. Though this has been adequate, if not efficient or completely reliable, it’s certainly not scalable.
This is a problem for three reasons. Firstly, as the industry becomes more heavily regulated, the number of compliance items requiring management will continue to grow, not lessen. Secondly, agencies that want to grow their portfolios and generate higher revenues can’t risk being overwhelmed by the burden of administration. And thirdly, tracking these items on paper and local documents means that things can be missed, whether due to staff absences or simple mistakes.
Introducing a simpler way
Console Cloud is the only property management software available in the New Zealand market that offers a fully automated compliance workflow. It’s simple to set up and use and ensures all necessary inspections are completed, and certificates updated on time.
Compliance items can be set up in the system with recurring due dates and assigned to creditors, owners, and body corporate managers. Console Cloud will automatically trigger reminders and email the relevant parties to keep everything on schedule and prompt you to act in the event of an imminent expiry.
You can track all the compliance items associated with a property on a clear timeline, so you have a full record of everything that’s happened—including communications—or get a top-line view of what’s happening more broadly from a central dashboard.
Less risk and wasted time
Our industry-first compliance workflow drastically reduces the amount of time it takes to manage Healthy Homes Standards, allowing you to spend less time on admin without missing a thing. And, because your compliance is being managed automatically, your agency—and your owners—are less open to liability.
Want to get ahead of the curve on Healthy Homes, and ensure your business is ready to tackle the new requirements with confidence?
Take a look at Console Cloud today.
Console New Zealand
Console are providers of trust accounting software and end-to-end property management solutions, for property managers and agents in Australia and New Zealand.