Student flat heating

Lyn asks:
(updated on Friday, May 18th 2012)

Our daughter lives in a student flat in Dunedin. It is a two-storey villa with no insulation or heating and the drapes are thin so don't keep any heat in. The rent is $750 per week and they pay all year even though they are only there eight months. Does the landlord have to provide heating? There seems no incentive for them to provide heating. It doesn't appear to comply with health and safety requirements. Where can we find these? As landlords ourselves we provide heat pumps in our rentals of a similar age.

Our Experts Answer:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) 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 Improvement 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 contact the council in the area the property is located to find out what that particular council considers adequate as “other approved form of heating” under the Regulations and in relation to your daughter’s tenancy. To discuss your situation further, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

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