Changes to Healthy Homes standards

Healthy Homes Standards became law on 1 July 2019.

New Zealand’s Healthy Homes Standards cover heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught-stopping. These standards apply to residential rental properties, aiming to provide minimum standards for warmer, drier and healthier rental housing. They have been gradually taking effect from 1 July 2021. 

Between 1 July 2021 and 1 July 2025, all private rentals must comply with the healthy homes standards within certain timeframes from the start of any new, or renewed, tenancy.

Tenancy agreements for new or renewed tenancies must now include a separately signed Healthy Homes Standards compliance statement. This is a statement from the property owner, which is typically arranged by Haven, about how well the rental property meets the Healthy Homes Standards. You can use the government’s compliance timeframes decision tool to find out when your rental property needs to comply.

Some private rentals may have additional time to comply with the heating standard. This will depend on whether the property uses the new heating formula to calculate the required heating capacity for the main living room. You can find out if your home meets the criteria for the new heating formula by using this tool, here.

Owners are responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of their rental properties. These standards will help ensure owners have healthier, safer properties and lower maintenance costs for their investments. The standards will also make it easier for tenants to keep their homes warm and dry.

Why is this important?

Nearly 600,000 households rent in New Zealand, and New Zealand based research has found that the country’s rental stock is generally poorer quality than owner-occupied homes. Research also shows a link between cold, damp and mouldy homes and negative health outcomes, particularly for illnesses such as asthma and cardiovascular conditions.

By improving the quality of rental homes, New Zealanders who rent will experience improved health, as well as lower medical costs and lower levels of hospitalisations. Warmer and drier homes are also less likely to have issues with mould or mildew damage, better protecting an owner’s investment.

What changes have taken effect from 2022?

Updates to the healthy homes standards took effect from 12 May 2022. The changes affect the heating, ventilation, and moisture ingress and drainage standards. If your rental property already meets the standards, you do not need to carry out any additional work to comply with the changes.


New formula for certain properties

A new heating formula applies to the following types of rental properties: 

  • Properties built to the 2008 building code. 
  • Certain apartments which are a part of a residential building of at least three storeys and have six or more commercial or residential units. 
  • Properties where the insulation and glazing has been installed throughout, so that it now meets or exceeds the 2009 insulation and glazing standards.

The heating assessment tool has been updated to include these changes. All other types of rental properties continue to use the original formula. Owners of all properties are able to use the heating assessment tool to calculate their heating requirements.

Compliance timeframe

A revised deadline (grace period) for compliance with the heating standard applies to support transitioning to these changes. 

If all of the following applies, the compliance date for the heating standard is 12 February 2023 (nine months after the regulations take effect): 

  • It is a private tenancy
  • The new heating formula is applicable to the rental property and the owner chooses to use it to calculate the minimum required heating capacity. 
  • The end of the 90 day compliance timeframe is on or after 12 May 2022 and before 12 February 2023. 

Owners of these properties must continue to comply with the other healthy homes standards within certain timeframes depending on when the new tenancy starts or is renewed.

Another way to meet the heating standard 

Owners now have an additional way to comply with the heating standard. As an alternative to the heating formula or tool, certain qualified specialists are able to assess the required heating capacity using criteria set out in regulation 10A. 

A qualified specialist is: 

  • a chartered professional engineer within the meaning set out in section 6 of the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002, 
  • an International Professional Engineer registered with Engineering New Zealand, or 
  • a person who has completed a tertiary engineering, physics or building science qualification at New Zealand Qualification Framework Level 7 or above, and has at least 5 years of experience in heating system design. 

Owners will need to hold relevant documentation as part of their record keeping if this compliance method is being used. Details are available on the Tenancy Services website. 

Changes where heating was installed before 1 July 2019 

Relaxing the tolerance for existing heating

The trigger point to top up or replace existing heating installed before 1 July 2019 has been relaxed from 90% to 80% of the required heating capacity. This means you don’t need to add more heating if you have one or more existing heaters that: 

  • were installed before 1 July 2019 
  • each have a heating capacity greater than 2.4 kW 
  • meet the requirements in the standards (for example, not an open fire or an unflued combustion heater) 
  • are not electric heaters (heat pumps are acceptable) if the required heating capacity for the main living room is over 2.4 kW, and 
  • have a total heating capacity that’s at least 80% of what you need to meet the required heating capacity. 

Increase of ‘top up’ allowance for existing heating 

For heating that was installed before 1 July 2019, the allowance when using electric heaters to ‘top up’ the heating capacity is now 2.4 kW instead of 1.5 kW. 

The new top up allowance will mean you can top up existing heating in the main living room to the required heating capacity either by: 

  • installing one or more additional fixed heaters that meets the requirements in the healthy homes standards; or 
  • adding a smaller fixed electric heater with a thermostat, but it must meet the following conditions: 

–  the existing heating was installed before 1 July 2019 

–  the required heating capacity is more than 2.4 kW, and 

–  the ‘top up’ needed is 2.4 kW or less. 

Clarification for complying with the heating standard where partial exemption applies 

If a rental property is part of a building and the owner does not own the entire building (for example, if you own an apartment within a larger complex), the owner will be partially exempt from complying with parts of the healthy homes standards if their ability to comply with the healthy homes standards is not possible because: 

  • they need to install or provide something in a part of the building where they are not the sole owner, or 
  • they need access to a part of the building that they are not the sole owner. 

Owners must still take all reasonable steps to ensure the rental property or building complies with the healthy homes standards to the greatest extent reasonably practicable. For example, for the heating standard this means if the required heating capacity is over 2.4 kW, and after taking all reasonable steps, an owner must install at least one qualifying heater that has a heating capacity of at least 2 kW. A fixed electric heater with a thermostat is an acceptable heater for this situation. 

Ventilation for kitchen and bathrooms

The ventilation standard now allows properties with certain continuous mechanical ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms to meet the ventilation standard. If your home was built with a continuous mechanical ventilation system, to meet the standard it must: 

  • be designed to vent extracted air continuously from the residential property to the outdoors, and for a kitchen or bathroom, extracts the air directly from the room, and 
  • have been installed in the property or a tenancy building that first received building consent on or after 1 November 2019 and was part of that original building consent, and continues to meet the requirements of the building consent. 

Alternatively, if your home has been renovated and now includes a continuous mechanical ventilation system, to meet the standard, the system must: 

  • be designed to provide ventilation for multiple rooms and to continuously vent extracted air to the outdoors, and 
  • extract air directly out of the kitchen and bathroom, with an exhaust capacity of at least 12 l/s in the kitchen and 10 l/s in the bathroom. The actual flow rate may be varied (manually or automatically),
    in response to the demand for ventilation. 

Recirculating systems (products like HRV and DVS systems), or fans that do not extract to the outdoors are not suitable to meet the ventilation standard. 

Moisture and Ingress Drainage

Owners are not required to install alternative moisture barriers where installation of a polythene barrier isn’t reasonably practicable in the subfloor area. 

Your friendly team at Haven are here to help manage your property’s Healthy Homes compliance. Talk to your property manager today for more imformation.