On July 1, 2019, New Zealand’s Labour-led coalition government passed it’s much-vaunted Healthy Homes Standards into law. Pushing the original policy through Parliament and into law was, excuse the pun, a labour of love for Jacinda Ardern’s party. Much had been made of the policy in the lead up to the 2017 General Election, and the reasoning behind it.
Labour argued that many of the 600,000 rental properties in New Zealand could be warmer, drier and better ventilated. This was backed up by New Zealand based research which suggested that the country’s rental stock was of poorer quality than owner-occupied homes and that there was a link between cold, damp and mouldy homes and poor health outcomes, particularly for conditions like asthma and associated respiratory problems, as well as cardiovascular illness.
As such, the coalition government brought Healthy Homes Standards from the campaign trail and into the nation’s laws books. The standards will introduce specific and minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping in rental properties. It’s a comprehensive set of standards that aims to improve the living conditions of tenants. At the same time, it also asks a lot of landlords who, until now, might not have been providing rental accommodation that doesn’t already meet certain standards. They have some work to do, and deadlines are approaching fast.
The timeline set in place by the government is a staggered one.
- All private rentals must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 1 July 2021, with all private rentals complying by 1 July 2024.
- All boarding houses must comply by 1 July 2021.
- All houses rented by Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) and registered Community Housing Providers must comply by 1 July 2023.
The government has lofty outcomes in mind. An improvement in the quality of rental homes, bringing with it better health for tenants, lower medical costs and fewer hospitalisations. Meanwhile, landlords should see some benefits too with warmer and drier homes less likely to have issues with mould or mildew damage.
With a recent report by the World Health Organisation showing that many New Zealand homes are too cold in winter (and too hot in summer), the implementation of Healthy Homes Standards is timely. It also promises to be a busy time for heat pump suppliers and installers all over the country.
One company installing Panasonic, Mitsubishi and Daikin heat pumps in Auckland is expecting a hectic time of it as Healthy Home Standards becomes a reality. A quick perusal of the new law makes it clear that heat pumps are the easiest option for landlords needing to boost the heating in their rental properties. Therefore, demand will be high and heat pump suppliers and installers urge landlords to place their orders in time to meet the government’s deadlines.