New rule will stop landlords renting out damp, mouldy homes

Tenants to benefit from healthier homes with new 'Moisture Ingress and Drainage' standard.
'Moisture Ingress and Drainage' standard will help to rid rentals of mould. Photo credit: Getty.

Rental shortage aside, tenants unable to find anything but damp, mouldy homes shouldn't be forced to live in them.

As part of the Healthy Homes Standards, from 1 July 2021, the market is set to be rid of mouldy rentals as a new standard for moisture and drainage will take effect. 

New and renewed tenancies must comply within 90 days, with all private rentals to comply by 1 July 2024.

Jennifer Sykes, tenancy services at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said that as dampness is often caused by external sources, landlords should start preparing now by checking that gutters are clear and that downpipes and drainage are working.

"Under the 'Moisture ingress and drainage' standard of the 'Healthy Homes Standards', landlords will need to make sure their rental properties have efficient drainage for the removal of stormwater, surface water and groundwater," Sykes said.

The drainage system must include gutters, downpipes and drains for the removal of water from the roof.

"If the rental property has an enclosed subfloor, a ground moisture barrier must be installed if it is [able to be done]," Sykes added.

Zac Snelling, head of property management at Ray White, said that management of mould and mildew throughout a tenancy is a joint effort and both the tenant and landlord are responsible.

"Landlords must [talk to tenants about] simple actions that can help prevent mould and mildew damage, for example: ventilating the property regularly, drying clothes outside (where possible) and how to keep on top of any minor mould as it appears," Snelling said. 

Landlords should ensure the home is maintained to a standard that prevents mould and damp from occurring, such as clearing gutters and drains and installing window-stays.

"Tenants should try to keep on top of regular cleaning and air out of the property - and work with their landlord if the property doesn't allow for this," Snelling added

From 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation became compulsory for all privately owned rentals, under amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act.

New rules for moisture and ingress drainage form part of the five areas of compliance under the 'Healthy Homes Standards', which came into law on 1 July 2019.  The standards also include heating, insulation (new requirements), ventilation and stopping of draughts.  All rentals must comply with the standards by 1 July 2024.

Although tenants fed up with viewing old, mouldy properties have just over a year-and-a-half to wait for the rules to kick in for new rentals, landlords wanting to avoid a bigger expense later are wise to investigate any warning signs now.

More information about Healthy Homes standards is available through Tenancy Services.