Government to announce final healthy home standards

Making sure New Zealanders have warm, dry homes is a key focus for the Government and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, its deputy chief executive of policy says.

The final healthy homes standards will be released on Thursday, with minimum requirements to be set for heating, insulation, moisture and drainage.

Every rental home will soon be required to have a heater in the living room and an extractor fan in the kitchen and bathroom.

The ministry says from July 1 2020, landlords will need to include detailed information about how their property meets standards, so tenants will be aware of them.

"Finalising the standards is a significant milestone for the rental market," deputy chief executive of policy Jo Hughes said.

Currently, the 2016 insulation requirements remain in force but from July 1 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes where it is "reasonably practicable" to install, the ministry says.

What the standards mean

  • All rental homes will be required to have a heater that can heat the main living area to 18C.

  • Rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation that either meets the 2008 Building Code insulation standard, or (for existing ceiling insulation), has a minimum thickness of 120mm.

  • Rental homes will also be drier under these changes, as kitchens and bathrooms will have to have extraction fans or rangehoods. Where rental homes have an enclosed subfloor space, property owners will need to install a ground moisture barrier to stop moisture rising into the home.

  • The standards also reinforce existing law which says landlords must have adequate drainage and guttering to prevent water entering the home. Draughts that make a home harder to heat will have to be blocked.

  • The 2016 insulation requirements remain in force. From 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes where it is reasonably practicable to install.

Compliance timeline for the new standards

  • July 1 2021 - From this date, private landlords must ensure their rental properties comply with the healthy home standards within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy. All boarding houses must comply with the healthy home standards.

  • July 1 2023 - All Housing New Zealand houses and registered Community Housing Provider’s houses must comply with the healthy home standards.  

  • July 1 2024 - All rental homes must comply with the healthy home standards.

  • A 2016 survey revealed half of rental homes are mouldy, yet most landlords are ignoring the problem.

The HRV State of Home Survey questioned 1450 people about the quality of their rental properties and found mould is prevalent in 48 percent of all homes rented.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford previously said current standards were impacting health.

"Approximately 1600 mostly older New Zealanders die premature deaths every winter," he says.

"That is in large part caused by cold damp housing."

Newshub.