Our Experts Answer:
The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) does not make any reference to the provisions 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 to the premises. For example, the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 specify the minimum standard of fitness for houses and require 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. “Adequate” is defined in the regulations as adequate in the opinion of the local authority. Therefore, what constitutes “adequate means of heating water” will depend on the local council. The Building Code also sets out the standards that buildings (including residential premises) must meet. The current 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 code that was in force at the time the building was built. If you have any concerns regarding the supply of hot water to the premises, I recommend that you discuss the matter with the landlord in the first instance, recording any agreement in writing. Alternatively, you may wish to contact the council in the area the property is located for information about the regulations that may apply to a particular premise, and to determine what that particular council considers sufficient as an “adequate” means of heating water under the Regulations and in relation to your tenancy. To discuss your situation further, or for information on landlord obligations under the Act, you can visit the Department’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).