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The Government has amended some of the Healthy Homes Standards for rental properties through the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Amendment Regulations 2022.

Amendments include changes to the heating requirements to reflect the higher thermal performance of new homes built to the 2008 building code requirements for insulation and glazing and certain apartments, as well as other minor changes to the ventilation and moisture ingress and drainage standards. Changes became law on 12 May 2022.

CHANGES TO THE HEATING STANDARD
The heating formula
The changes to the heating standard will generally allow smaller heaters to be installed in homes built to the 2008 building code requirements for insulation and glazing and apartments.

The updated formula for these building types means that tenants will still benefit from a living room which
can be heated to and maintained at 18ºC on the coldest day of the year. The heating assessment tool on the Tenancy Services website has been updated to reflect these changes.

Heating assessment tool
The original heating formula remains suitable for most of the rental housing stock in Aotearoa New Zealand. Buildings which are not apartments and are not built to the 2008 building code requirements for insulation and glazing still need to comply with the original Healthy Homes Standards heating requirements, unless they meet the requirements of one of the alternative pathways described below.

Compliance dates for landlords
To assist in transitioning to these new arrangements, private landlords of new homes built to the 2008 building code requirements for insulation and glazing and certain apartments will have a later deadline to meet the heating standard. Landlords will have until 12 February 2023 to comply with the heating standard.

Alternative pathways to comply with the heating standard using innovative and energy-efficient technologies.
The Government has also introduced more flexibility for properties with innovative and energy-efficient
technologies.

Developers can now use new and different heating technologies to comply with the heating standard. This requires a specialist to estimate the housing needs according to specific criteria, including that the system must be able to heat the living room to 18ºC on the coldest day of the year. In many new housing developments, a heating specialist will already be engaged for code compliance and/or design purposes. Geothermal heating systems that provide direct heat to a living room will also meet the heating standard. This will be utilised primarily by homes in Rotorua.

Heaters installed prior to 1 July 2019
The Government is also allowing electrical heaters to boost the heating capacity to what is required when qualifying heaters installed prior to 1 July 2019 are short of capacity by 2.4kW or less, rather than 1.5kW or less. The trigger point to top up or replace existing heating installed before 1 July 2019 has been revised to existing heaters that are at 80% of the required heating capacity, instead of 90%. Over time, as heaters need to be replaced due to wear and tear, they will need to meet the full requirement of the heating standard.

Clarification to the heating standard
if the landlord is not the owner of the whole tenancy building
A minor change to the heating standard has been made to clarify situations where the landlord is not the owner of the whole tenancy building and therefore cannot meet the heating standard. If the required heating capacity is over 2.4 Kw, a landlord 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.

CHANGES TO THE VENTILATION STANDARD
Amendments to the healthy homes ventilation standard now support the use of continuous mechanical ventilation which extracts moisture to the outdoors from kitchens and bathrooms. Continuous mechanical ventilation will meet the ventilation standard where they have been installed in homes that have first received building consent, and the system was part of that original consent on or after 1 November 2019.

For retrofitted homes where installation of continuous mechanical ventilation took place before 1 November 2019, or if the mechanical ventilation system wasn’t part of the original consent, the system must provide ventilation for multiple rooms and meet minimum exhaust capacity requirements.

CLARIFICATION TO THE MOISTURE INGRESS AND DRAINAGE STANDARD
A minor change to the moisture ingress and drainage standard for moisture barriers has been made. It clarifies that landlords are not required to install alternative moisture barriers where installation of a polythene barrier isn’t reasonably practical.

Looking at buying a new property? As an astute buyer, you will probably have a list of things to check out before you make your offer such as council records, water tightness issues and a building report.

However, many people miss out one very important subject… the property’s susceptibility to natural hazards. And in a country punctuated by everchanging extreme weather patterns, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) has launched a new public education campaign – Home Safe Home? – to inspire home buyers to view a prospective property through a ‘natural hazard lens’.

Buying a home is a critical time for some people to make risk-based decisions, while others might be willing to make additional investments to improve the safety and resilience of their new home. But EQC public education manager Hamish Armstrong says the message is clear; before you buy a home, find out how natural hazards might affect it and what you will need to do to remedy any damage.

“There’s a lot to think about when buying a new home,” Hamish says. “However, top of the list might not be how it will stand up to a natural hazard.

“The campaign is not intended to tell people not to buy a particular home – instead we want to encourage them to be more ‘risk aware’ during the process. We want home buyers to consider actions they might need to take if they’re going to buy it.

“We hope this will continue to improve people’s awareness of the natural hazard risks we face in New Zealand and help home buyers spot the risks that might affect them and their property before they buy.”

Did you know that, in addition to your monthly statement, your Harcourts property manager can provide you with a comprehensive end of year financial statement that summarises all your income and expenditure for the financial year?

If you haven’t received your statement already, reach out to your Harcourts property manager and make tax time easier for yourself and your accountant.

Section (55)(1)(aa) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) provides landlords with an additional option for responding to rent arrears during a periodic tenancy.

This section of the RTA was introduced through the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2020 (RTAA) and took effect from 11 February 2021. It is in addition to existing provisions under sections 55 and 56 of the RTA, which gives landlords the ability to seek termination of a tenancy in certain situations, including unpaid rent.

This additional option was introduced due to the removal of the 90 day no cause termination for periodic tenancies. Upon consultation with the property management sector, the Government established that one reason the 90-day no-cause termination was being used was to deal with repeated rent arrears. As a result, the 90-day no-cause termination was removed and the three strike rule was introduced to address this problem.

Landlords may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to terminate a periodic tenancy if the following three steps occur:
1. On three separate occasions within a 90-day period an amount of rent that was due has remained unpaid for at least five working days.
2. On each occasion the landlord gave the tenant written notice advising them of the unpaid rent and each notice must include certain information.
3. The landlord can then file an application to the Tenancy Tribunal within 28 days after the third notice was given to the tenant.

The landlord will have to prove that rent was due and remained unpaid for at least five working days on three separate occasions within a 90-day period and that the three notices given met the requirements above.

It is important to note that although landlords may now apply to the Tribunal for termination of a periodic tenancy for repeated rent arrears, the Tribunal may refuse to make an order if it is satisfied that the breach has been remedied, such as the arrears rent being paid and if it is unlikely that the tenant will get behind in their rent again.

In addition to the three strike rule for repeated rent arrears, the RTAA has also provided a similar provision for anti-social behaviour for periodic tenancies. The changes cover situations of antisocial behaviour that reoccur, and that are more than minor, but aren’t currently addressed by the RTA.

A landlord may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end a periodic tenancy if:
• on three separate occasions within a 90-day period, a tenant (or a person in the premises with the tenant’s permission) has engaged in anti-social behaviour in connection with the tenancy; and
• a valid notice for anti-social behaviour was served on the tenant following each of those occasions.