Landlord's heating obligations?

Question from Claire updated on 7th August 2012:

What are the responsibilities of the landlord in providing heating? The house is brand new (but was empty for two years after it was built). It has single glazing with no means of heating other than plugging in an electrical heater. The house also has vertical blinds throughout which are not the best at keeping heat in.

Our expert Megan Martin responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 does not make any reference to the provision of heating in rental properties. However, it does require landlords to comply with all relevant health, safety and building regulations that apply to the premises. The Housing Improvements Regulations 1947 (the Regulations) specify the minimum standard of fitness for houses, and require every living room to be fitted with a fireplace and chimney or other approved form of heating. “Approved” is defined in the regulations as approved by the local authority. Therefore, what constitutes “other approved form of heating” (other than a fireplace and chimney) will depend on the local council and could be as simple as ensuring there is a power socket for the tenant to plug in their own heater. I recommend that you discuss the matter with the landlord in the first instance to see if an agreement can be reached, recording any agreement in writing. Alternatively, you may wish to contact the council in the area the property is located to find out what that particular council considers adequate as an “approved” form of heating under the Regulations and in relation to your tenancy. Phone 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262) or visit www.dbh.govt.nz for further information.

 

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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