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The 5 Healthy Homes Standards – And why your property might fail

Are you a property investor trying to navigate the healthy homes standards? Here's a simple guide to why your property might fail + how to fix it.


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Every rental property in New Zealand must meet minimum Healthy Homes Standards.

If your property doesn’t you could be hit with a meaty fine of up to $7200 for each breach of the standards (potential $43,200 total fine) from the Tenancy Tribunal.

These standards are specific and strict. Even if your property was built yesterday – and meets the building code – it may still fail the Healthy Homes Standards.

In this article you’ll learn what the Healthy Homes Standards are; the reasons properties tend to fail the standards; and what you need to do to put it right.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave them in the comments section below.

What are the healthy homes standards?

Healthy Homes Standards is a law enforced by Tenancy Services to ensure Kiwis have warm and dry homes to live in.

These standards became law in July, 2019 and were updated in May, 2022.

Essentially, Healthy Homes introduced minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and draught stopping in rental properties.

This was deemed necessary because research into almost 600,000 rented households in New Zealand revealed the rental stock was poor compared with owner-occupied homes.

Cold, damp, mouldy homes have proven links to health issues such as asthma.

So, there are 5 key factors to determine whether or not your home gets a pass or fail:

  1. Draught-stopping
  2. Insulation
  3. Heating
  4. Ventilation
  5. Moisture and drainage

The standards are technical. For example, the Tenancy Services guide to ventilation standard is 12 pages long.

The 5 healthy home standards

When Did The Healthy Homes Standards Come Into Effect?

The updated law means all private rentals must comply within 120 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 28 August 2022, with all private rentals complying by 1 July 2025.

If you haven’t had a new tenancy start at your property and/or you haven’t renewed the tenancy since 1 July 2021 you don’t have to comply until 1 July 2025. However as soon as you sign a new tenancy agreement – or renew the agreement with the same tenant – the property needs to come up to code within 120 days.

Are The Healthy Homes Standards Compulsory?

Yes. Landlords are required by law to ensure their property meets the requirements set out in the Healthy Homes Standards.

If your tenant doesn’t believe their rental meets the Healthy Homes Standards they can apply for a hearing with the Tenancy Tribunal.

The tribunal can:

  • Order you to undertake the work to bring the property up to Healthy Homes Standards, and
  • Fine you up to $7,200.

The money from any fines is paid to the tenant, not the tribunal, which means there is an incentive for tenants to make the application (and they do).

This means property investors and managers will need to keep diligent records to ensure their properties are up to code.

What are the healthy homes standards?

There are 5 main aspects of the Healthy Homes Standards: heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, and moisture and drainage. But what do these each mean? Let’s find out.

Healthy Homes Standard #1 – Draught Stopping

Healthy homes nz

Tenancy Services states landlords must: “Stop any gaps or holes that cause noticeable draughts.”

This often means blocking unused open fireplaces and chimneys, although properties tend to also fail this standard because there are small gaps underneath doors, which create a draught.

Opes Property Management, our sister property management company at Opes Partners, conducted an analysis to understand why properties fail Healthy Homes Standards.

They discovered that sometimes a draught is created underneath the doors between an internal access garage and a hallway.

Healthy homes nz

The solution is to install a draught-stopper underneath the door. This may cost around $100 - $150 for a handyman to buy and install.

For those more inclined to DIY, the materials for a draught-stopper can be picked up for less than $40 from Mitre10 or Trade Me.

The draught standard isn’t just confined to the bottom of doors. A listener of the Property Academy Podcast text to let us know one of her properties failed because there was a draught in the kitchen caused by a cat door.

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If this property investor had not undertaken a professional Healthy Homes Standard assessment she might never have picked this up.

And if her tenant had complained to the Tenancy Tribunal once the standards were live, she might have had to pay up to $7,200 in fines.

Healthy Homes Standard #2 Insulation

Healthy homes website images 003 min

Ceiling and underfloor insulation have been compulsory in all rental homes since July 1, 2019.

The Healthy Homes Standards take this further, setting a minimum R-value for insulation. The R-value is a measure of how well the insulation resists heat passing through it.

Underfloor insulation across the country needs an R-value of at least 1.3, and ceiling insulation must be at least 120mm thick.

However, the R-value of ceiling insulation depends on where the rental property is in the country.

In Auckland and Northland, where temperatures are warmer, the minimum R-value for ceiling insulation is 2.9. For the whole South Island and the Central North Island, the minimum is 3.3. And for the rest of the North Island, the minimum is 2.9.

You can figure out the R-value of insulation by checking its packaging, although if your insulation was installed a long time ago there might be a product label stapled to a beam in the attic.

Typically, a property might fail this standard because insulation may settle over time, decreasing in thickness and becoming less effective.

That’s where you may need to top up the insulation, adding extra material on top of what’s already there.

It may have also been moved accidentally and no longer be in the right place. This often happens if a tradie has been in the roof for another job.

Healthy Homes Standard #3 Heating

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One of the most stringent parts of this legislation is heating.

Landlords must have enough fixed heaters installed so that a whole living room can be heated to 18 degrees, even on the coldest day of the year.

That means properties in Invercargill, where temperatures are cooler, will require more heating than those in Northland, where temperatures are warmer.

Investors can use an online assessment tool to calculate the minimum kilowatts needed within the heating appliance to meet this standard. If you’re using a professional company for your Healthy Homes inspection, they will do this for you.

For instance, running the tool on a 30m2 room in Christchurch City with single glazing resulted in the need for a 6.2kW heat pump.

That’s based on the coldest temperature in Christchurch being -4 degrees and the heat pump needing to raise the whole room’s temperature by 22 degrees.

Before you calculate the online assessment you’ll need to measure your lounge walls and windows first, plus note whether your windows are single or double glazed.

Your room’s shape will also impact how much heating you need. If you have an open staircase that can’t be walled off, the entire hallway and staircase will be considered part of the heating assessment.

One previous quirk around the act is that older, draughtier homes sometimes had an easier time meeting heating standard compared to newer, drier homes. The reason for this is that heating is only required for the living area and because newer homes tend to be more open plan, a significant heat pump was required to meet the standards. On the other hand, the living room in an older property tended to be smaller.

There have been recent changes to the heating calculation tool to take into account the building code standards under which a property has been constructed or renovated to. This generally means more modern homes will require less heating for similar sized living areas than older homes. There are now seven timeframes a property will fit into when calculating the heating standards:

1977 or earlier

From 1978 to 2000

From 2001 to 2008

From 2009 to 2 November 2022

From 3 November 2022 to 30 April 2023

From 1 May 2023 to 1 November 2023

From 2 November 2023 onwards

Healthy Homes Standard #4 Ventilation

Healthy homes website images 005 min

All rooms need to have a door or window that can open to the outside and be held open.

These windows and doors also have minimum size requirements. They must add up to at least 5% of each room’s floor area.

Extractor fans also make up part of this standard. Kitchens and bathrooms need an extractor fan that ventilates externally.

If you bought and installed an extractor fan for your bathroom or kitchen after July 1, 2019 there are minimum size and power requirements. But if it was purchased before that there are no minimums required, it just has to vent externally.

Properties usually fail the ventilation standard because a window isn’t opening correctly or the ducting on the extractor fan has a tear or kink or has been squashed.

A colleague at Opes Property Management, recalls:

"One of the properties we look after failed the standards on ventilation. It turns out an electrician had been in the roof a few months prior and accidentally stood on the ducting while walking out. So it didn't meet the standard, and that section had to be replaced."

There are many reasons a property can fail any of these standards, so it is best to get a Healthy Homes assessment from a specialist company.

Healthy Homes Standard #5 Moisture and Drainage

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The final standard requires that your rental property has enough drainage to remove water from your roof or garden and direct it to a drain.

It’s got to be robust enough to prevent the house and land flooding after normal rain.

There are two ways homes usually fail to meet the drainage standard:

  • There may be leaves or debris clogging a drain or spouting, or
  • There may be cracks or missing pieces in the drainage, which means some water spills over the spouting

Even if you clear the leaves or debris blocking a drain, you still need to maintain it.

That’s because the landlord is legally responsible for the ongoing clearing of gutters, downpipes and drains. This includes cleaning out leaves and debris.

This is generally a simple and easy fix as long as the gutters are in a good state of repair.

How do I get a healthy homes compliance statement?

When you rent your property to a tenant you need to give them a Healthy Homes Compliance statement.

You can perform a Healthy Homes inspection yourself, in which case there is no cost.

However, most investors will hire a company to complete it for them. Prices typically range between $200-$300.

For instance, here are a few providers’ prices current at the time of writing:

Daleigh Healthy Homes – $175 + GST

Home Performance Solutions – $199 + GST

All Clear – $260 + GST (for a comprehensive assessment).

If you do decide to do the work yourself you can download an empty Compliance Statement template as well as a step-by-step guide to completing the Healthy Homes Assessment on the Tenancy Services website.

For instance, here is what the Heating Standard section looks like:

Healthy homes

Under this standard you need to calculate how powerful your heaters need to be (in kilowatts). The best way to do this is use the Heating Assessment Tool.

Healthy Homes Case Study – Opes Property Management

As mentioned, Opes Property Management, our sister property management company at Opes Partners, conducted an analysis of their properties to see the most common reasons homes fail these new standards.

For context, the properties Opes Property Management look after tend to be relatively new (built within the last 10 years).

But when Healthy Homes Standards first came in 80.95% of the properties that had a professional assessment failed at least one of the 5 minimum requirements.

We hear you: “Surely these properties aren’t of very good quality?” … Why would a brand-new building built to code fail a test on being warm and dry?

This is the clinch, because even if your rental property is new and appears healthy, it may not meet these stringent standards.

Even though many developers now build their properties to meet Healthy Homes Standards, Opes Property Management estimates 15%-20% of New Builds still fail.

For instance, if it has an internal access garage it is likely to fail on the draught under the door: an easy and cheap fix.

Some developers will go back and take care of this and some are now front-footing and installing during the build.

And on the odd occasion insulation has been moved or squashed, which then needs remediation.

What are the exemptions?

There are some situations where a property may be exempt from complying with (fully or in part) the Healthy Homes Standards.

Usually, these exemptions are:

#1 – If council consent has been issued to demolish or rebuild the property. For the exemption to stand, the consent must be issued before the new tenancy agreement is signed.

#2 – If the immediate former owner of the property becomes the tenant. For instance let’s say you own and live in your property, but then you sell it to someone else. If you continue to live in the property and rent it from the new owner, your home is exempt from Healthy Home standards for 12 months after the purchase date.

#3 – If the property is an apartment, and the landlord doesn’t have access to another part of the building required to comply with Healthy Homes. In this situation, there is a partial exemption.

#4 – If one of these exemptions becomes null and void during the tenancy term. Let’s say for instance, the building consent expires (#1), or the former landlord moves out (#2), then the current landlord must obtain a Healthy Homes certificate within a “reasonably practicable” timeframe.

If you want to know more about the specific exemptions, head to the Tenancy Services website.

What should I do next?

These standards are technical.

You might think that your property is healthy, but that doesn’t make it compliant.

That’s why landlords should invest in a professional Healthy Homes assessment, so they know what needs doing at their properties.

This typically costs between $200 – $300, plus the cost to remedy any part of the property that doesn’t meet the standards.

While you’re doing this, you’ll also want your property manager to collate the paperwork to provide a completed and signed compliance statement to your tenant which is required by law.

Opes Partners
Tom Greene 1 extended copy 2 2024 04 03 223109 tdks

Tom Greene

Business Development Manager with 5 years Property Management industry experience. Property Investor in Christchurch

Tom Greene is the Business Development Manager at Opes Property Management in Christchurch with over five years of industry experience and is also an experienced property investor. Tom provides tenancy guidance and insight to those both starting and continuing their investment journey.

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