Rental property standards
The healthy homes standards, that became law on July 1, 2019, introduced specific and minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping in rental properties.
All private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after July 1, 2021, with all private rentals complying by July 1, 2024. All boarding houses must comply by July 1, 2021. All houses rented by Kainga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) and registered Community Housing Providers must comply by July 1, 2023.
Landlords must provide one or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living room to 18˚C on the coldest days of the year.
Insulation installed before July 2016 will meet the current requirements if:
- it is in reasonable condition (e.g. no mould, dampness or gaps), and
- it was at least the minimum R-value when it was installed.
For timber-framed homes: Ceiling R 1.9, underfloor R 0.9. For masonry homes: Ceiling R 1.5, underfloor R 0.9
These minimum R-values only apply until the healthy homes compliance date. After that, all insulation in rental homes must meet the new standard.
If any part of the existing insulation is not in reasonable condition, then the landlord must replace it with insulation that meets the new standard, as below.
If insulation was installed after 1 July 2016
New insulation in rental properties needs to meet minimum R-values. The minimum R-value depends on which part of the country the property is in:
Minimum R-values for Zones 1 and 2: Ceiling R 2.9, underfloor R 1.3
Minimum R-values for Zone 3: Ceiling R 3.3, underfloor R 1.3
If there’s more than one layer of insulation their product R-values may be combined. All insulation must be in reasonable condition.
All habitable rooms in a rental property must have at least one window, door or skylight which opens to the outside and can be fixed in the open position.
In each room, the size of the openable windows, doors and skylights together must be at least 5% of the floor area of that room.
Each window door, window or skylight must be openable and must be able to remain fixed in an open position.
All kitchens and bathrooms must have an extractor fan vented to the outside.
- Kitchens – In any room with a cooktop, new fans or rangehoods installed after 1 July 2019 must have a minimum diameter (including ducting) of 150mm or an exhaust capacity of at least 50 litres per second.
- Bathrooms – In any room with a shower or bath, new fans installed after 1 July 2019 must have a minimum diameter (including ducting) of 120mm or an exhaust capacity of at least 25 litres per second.
Rental properties must have efficient drainage for the removal of storm water, surface water and ground water, including an appropriate outfall. 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 reasonably practicable to do so.
A ground moisture barrier is generally a polythene sheet that can be bought from most building retailers. It can be installed by a house owner or a building professional.
Ground moisture barriers must either:
- be a polythene sheet and installed in accordance with section 8 of New Zealand Standard NZS4246:2016 , or
- have a vapour flow resistance of at least 50MNs/g and be installed by a professional installer.
There is one specific exemption to the moisture ingress and drainage standard. This exemption covers properties where it is not reasonably practicable to install a ground moisture barrier.
It is not reasonably practicable to install something if a professional installer can’t access the area without:
- carrying out substantial building work, or
- causing substantial damage to the property, or
- creating greater risks to a person’s health and safety than is normally acceptable, or
- it is otherwise not reasonably practicable for a professional installer to carry out the work.
Under the healthy homes standards, landlords must make sure the premises doesn’t have unreasonable gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, skylights, floors and doors which cause noticeable draughts. Landlords can’t use the age and condition of the house as a reason not to stop gaps or holes.
If rental homes have an open fireplace, it must be closed off or the chimney blocked to prevent draughts in and out of the property through the fireplace.
Tenants can ask landlords in writing to make the fireplace available for use and the landlord can agree. If it is available for use, it must be in good working order and free of any gaps which could cause a draught that are not necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the open fireplace. It is best practice to record any agreement in writing, with both tenant and landlord keeping a copy.