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.
Failure to provide heating costs
It's the law: Healthy Homes standards