Can landlords assess property themselves?
There is no restriction on who can or cannot assess the current level of Healthy Homes Standards compliance at a rental property. Landlords can absolutely self-inspect, and many do.
When is the best time to schedule an inspection to get a Healthy Homes assessment done?
It's true that compliance with the standards officially is only required after July 2021 and it may feel like you have plenty of time, but now is the best time to start getting your property up to standard. Avoid the last-minute rush to meet the deadline. Allow yourself time for any unexpected or unplanned works. Plan and book necessary tradespeople ahead of time to avoid long lead times.
Can the tenant refuse an inspection?
Tenants cannot unreasonably refuse an inspection. From 1 July 2019, a landlord has the lawful right of access to the property to undertake necessary work to comply with the healthy homes standards (with the 1-day notice required).
If a tenant is making it difficult for you to do the works or schedule tradespeople' visits, under s48, the tenant can suggest another day or time, but they have to be reasonable. Otherwise, you can issue a 14-day notice to give them a warning that they're breaching their obligations.
Resolving disputes with tenants
It's always best trying to resolve disputes by approaching another party directly. If the issue doesn't get resolved, the application to the Tenancy Tribunal can be made to schedule a mediation or hearing.
Can a tenant hold a landlord accountable to the standards?
They can. The tenants can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal if they believe the property doesn't meet the standards by the required compliance deadline. As a landlord, you have a legal obligation to comply under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 with the healthy homes standards.
What are the penalties?
The Tribunal has the power to issue an order to a landlord that is legally binding to undertake work, and award fines for non-compliance.
There is a $500 fine for not completing a HHS compliance statement correctly and/or not including it with tenancy agreement when it's needed.
The Tenancy Tribunal may also award exemplary damages, a financial penalty of up to $4000 against the landlord, which is usually awarded to the tenants. This will likely be in cases of not meeting the standards and take into the account the intention of the landlord and the effect non-compliance had on the tenant.
The Tribunal may also award compensation for any material loss and/or general damages for intangible loss, stress, humiliation, and inconvenience suffered by the tenant due to the landlord's non-compliance.
Worried? Get a second opinion.
You can choose to hire an independent third-party assessor to conduct an in-depth assessment of your property. They will tell you which standard you already comply with and what you still need to do to be compliant. However, these assessments come at a cost and will depend on the size of your property.
Alternatively, you can inspect a property yourself and find a reliable builder or tradesman to get a second opinion.
The market is largely unregulated, so do check that people you hire have necessary qualifications, read reviews where you can find them and rely on word-of-mouth recommendations from fellow landlords.
Best practice is to update the HHS compliance statement each time. If no changes, you can simply copy the statement across and attach it to the next agreement.
The information contained in this article is exclusively for promotional purposes. It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as the basis for any legal action or contractual dealings. The information is not and does not attempt to be, a comprehensive account of the relevant law in New Zealand. If you require legal advice, you should seek independent legal counsel. myRent.co.nz does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.