Cold comfort

Question from Lee updated on 11th May 2012:

Could a residential property be legally 'available for rent' without hot water? I've searched the RTA online and I can find references only to water availability as a requirement for tenancy. Is hot water required by New Zealand law?

Our expert Megan Martin responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) does not make any reference to the provision of hot water in rental properties. However, it does require landlords to ensure the premises comply with all relevant health, safety and building regulations that apply. For example, the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 specify the minimum standard of fitness for houses and require a premises to have a supply of potable water in the kitchen and a supply of wholesome water with an adequate means of heating water in every bathroom. The Building Code also sets out the standards that buildings (including residential premises) must meet. The current Building Code requires sanitary fixtures and sanitary appliances to be provided with hot water when those fixtures and appliances are intended to be used for utensil washing or personal washing, showering or bathing. However, buildings are only required to comply with the Building Code that was in force at the time the building was built. For more information about the regulations that may apply to a particular premises and whether provision of hot water is a requirement, you can contact the council in the area the property is located. While a property that does not comply with relevant regulations could be offered for rent, the landlord would be obliged to carry out any repairs or maintenance required to bring the premises up to the required standard. For advice and information on tenancy matters, contact the Department on 0800 TENANCY (0800 242 243) between 8:00am and 5:30pm from Monday to Friday.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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