Getting heating right

Friday 24 January 2020

Heating requirements for rental properties are currently a source of confusion for many landlords and property managers so REINZ has issued a reminder of what is required.

By The Landlord

While there was some uncertainty about heating requirements before the Healthy Homes Minimum Standards passed into law last year, there is now widespread confusion about them.

That’s because new insulation standards - resulting from changes made to the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) back in 2016 – came into force in 2019.

But the new Healthy Homes Minimum Standards, which includes a heating standard, don’t come into effect until 2021 at which point landlords will have two years to ensure their rental properties are compliant with the standards within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy.

REINZ chief executive Bindi Norwell says this “limbo period” seems to be causing confusion and this has been highlighted in some recent Tenancy Tribunal cases.

It has also resulted in an increase in enquiries to REINZ’s Property Management team, she says.

“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.

“This means that if a working fireplace is not in the living room of a rental property that tenants can request the landlord or property manager supply them with a heater of some sort.

“Under the regulations, the landlord or property manager must meet this requirement between now and when the Healthy Homes standards come into effect.”

Norwell says the recent Tribunal cases show it’s easy to be caught out by this. “So, we thought it was important that we remind property managers and landlords of their obligations.”

Once the Healthy Homes Standards come into effect, then the requirements will change to a fixed heating source which can directly heath the main living room to at least 18 degrees Celsius.

“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,” she says.

Read more: 

Failure to provide heating costs 

It's the law: Healthy Homes standards

Comments from our readers

On 24 January 2020 at 12:21 pm Buy4Fun said:
Furthermore there is apparently a theoretical calculator based sqm, location etc to give a minimum kilowatt output for your heating source. The outcome of this assessment on my properties is supposedly the existing heat pumps are under capacity and can’t be topped up with a secondary heat source so I am required to install a second heatpump in the same room. Both of the rooms assessed aren’t large (less than 15m2) both are modern and insulated and have heat pumps that professionals recommended adequate to heat that area and now I have to spend another $4k at each location to install a second heatpump when the first was more than adequate. Not sure how it has come to this. Surely this needs reviewing to at least test existing heating can heat a room to 18 degrees rather than a rely on a calculator.
On 24 January 2020 at 4:38 pm said:
For these sort of applications the online calculators are very conservative, and have many worst case assumptions. Usually we would do an onsite trial early on a cool morning, measure the rate at which the room warms and the temperature achieved. This can be used as evidence of compliance later and might save you $8k ! MR (mechanical Engineer)
On 12 February 2020 at 3:14 pm Abode Heating & Insulation said:
A few lines out of documents on the Tenancy Services website that may assist with your dilemma I have an undersized heater, can I top up with an electric heater? A landlord may be able to install an electric heater to make up the difference between the required heating capacity and an existing undersized heater(s). An undersized heater(s) can be topped up by an electric heater of up to 1.5 kilowatts. However, this can only be done where the required heating capacity for the main living room is more than 2.4 kilowatts and the existing heating device(s) were installed before 1 July 2019. What if I have already installed a heater in the living room? A landlord will need to determine whether the current heating device is an acceptable device and if the heating device will be able to heat the main living room to 18˚C. Landlords can use the online heating tool to determine the kilowatts required to heat the main living room to 18˚C. If a landlord has installed a heating device before 1 July 2019 and the heating output is within 10% of the kilowatts required to heat the main living room, that heating device will meet the standard.

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