Busting the myth: What landlords really have to provide for tenants

Fixed wall heater
REINZ sets record straight on current - and upcoming - heating requirements for rental properties. Photo credit: Getty.

Concerns over confusion as to how rental properties should be heated has prompted REINZ to remind tenants, landlords and property managers of the current standard - and what is due to change from July 2021. 

Following the introduction of ceiling and underfloor insultation standards from 1 July 2019, the REINZ property management team has received a spike in enquiries about the type of heating that landlords should provide.

"Currently, under the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947, there is a requirement that the living room of every property be fitted with a fireplace (and chimney) or other approved form of heating," Bindi Norwell, chief executive said.

Currently, if the living room doesn't have a fireplace or other fixed heat supply, tenants can ask their landlord to provide some form of plug-in heating as a stop-gap measure.

"Under the current regulations, the landlord or property manager must meet this requirement between now and when the Healthy Homes standards come into effect [after 1 July 2021]" Norwell confirmed.

Under the Healthy Homes Standards, the heating standard requires landlords to provide a fixed heating source which heats the main living room to at least 18˚C.

"A portable heater will not meet the requirements from July next year, so landlords and property managers should be planning for the best long-term approach to meet the new requirements in 2021," Norwell added.

The Healthy Homes Standards came into law on 1 July 2019 and require landlords to meet five areas of compliance: heating, insulation (new requirements), ventilation, moisture ingress/drainage and stopping of draughts. 

From 1 July 2021, landlords have 90 days to comply for new or renewed tenancies and all rentals must comply by 1 July 2024. 

"It’s easy to be caught out, as we’ve seen in recent Tribunal cases, so we thought it was important that we remind property managers and landlords of their obligations," Norwell said.

Although the peak summer season means that cooling rather than heating is likely to be top- of-mind, with just 18 months until the Healthy Homes Standards kick in, tenants and landlords are wise to ensure that a more permanent heating solution is in the pipeline.