Winter is coming, standards will follow
What you need to know about the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017
The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017 was passed into law on 4 December 2017 (the “Healthy Homes Act”). The majority of the changes in the Healthy Homes Act will come into force on 1 July 2019 including the introduction of healthy homes standards, which will apply to every rental property in New Zealand.
What are the Healthy Homes Standards?
The standards are not specified in the Healthy Homes Act. The government has indicated that the healthy homes standards will be contained in regulations, developed and issued over the next twelve to eighteen months. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will consult publicly on the development of the healthy homes standards and timeframes for compliance.
The healthy homes standard could include standards relating to:
- Indoor temperatures;
- Moisture or humidity levels; and
- Requirements relating to heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress, draught stopping, drainage and more.
All residential tenancies must comply with the healthy homes standards, whatever those standards may be, by 1 July 2024, however the regulations may provide earlier compliance dates in some circumstances.
Under the Healthy Homes Act, all new residential tenancy agreements made before 1 July 2019 must include a statement from the landlord that confirms that on or after the commencement of the tenancy, the landlord will meet the healthy homes standards and provide any required information relating to meeting those standards.
Financial Assistance for Landlords
Some local or regional councils offer financial assistance to heat and insulate homes. For instance, in Auckland homeowners may be eligible for the Retrofit Your Home scheme, which offers up to $5,000 of financial assistance per property for insulation (including rental properties). The loan is then repaid through a targeted rate on the property over a period of nine years.
In additional to this, homeowners can apply to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (“EECA”) for underfloor and ceiling insulation grants – this is known as “Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes”. The grant covers up to 50% of insulation costs for qualifying properties. Warm Up New Zealand funding is limited and grants are available until 30 June 2018.
New grants from EECA, known as “Warmer Kiwi Homes”, will be available from 1 July 2018 to cover up to two thirds of the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation. Those on low incomes and live in their own homes will be eligible for Warmer Kiwi Homes.
Some financial institutions provide targeted interest-free loans for insulation.
What Comes Next?
Landlords and tenants alike will need to keep an eye out for the new regulations containing the healthy homes standards. If you are interested in further information or advice about the Healthy Homes Act or the Residential Tenancy Act, please contact our friendly team.
A copy of the Healthy Homes Act can be found here: Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017.