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Healthy Homes Standards - Exemptions

17 October 2020

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There are 2 general exemptions and 1 partial exemption from complying with the Healthy Homes Standards that landlords should be aware of.

1. Landlord plans to demolish or substantially rebuild property and has applied for the relevant resource or building consent before the healthy homes compliance date.

Rental premises do not need to meet the HHS requirements if the landlord intends to demolish the property or substantially rebuild it. For this exception to apply, the landlord cannot simply have an intention to rebuild or demolish. The landlord must have evidence of the intention to rebuild or demolish, such as an application for building consent, redevelopment work, or resource consent. This exemption will last for up to 12 months from the healthy homes compliance date.

If the application for a resource or building content is refused, the landlord has 90 days to comply with HHS. Unless the landlord challenges the refusal, then the exemption is re-instated awaiting the outcome.

2. When the property is sold and then immediately leased back to the previous owner-occupier.

Rental premises do not need to meet the HHS requirements if the property is sold and then immediately leased back to the former owner-occupier. This exception only applies for the first 12 months of that tenancy. If the tenancy continues beyond 12 months, then the landlord must take action to meet the HHS requirements.

3. The rental property is part of a building, and the landlord doesn't own the entire building (e.g. apartment)

If the rental premises are part of a greater structure, such as an apartment in a block of flats, the landlord may be partially exempt from HHS if:
- the landlord needs to install something in a part of the building where the landlord is not a sole owner
- the landlord has no access to a part of the property to comply
- BUT the landlord took all reasonable steps to comply

If any exemptions cease to apply, the landlord must comply as soon as it's reasonably practicable.

Some specific exemptions apply to the new heating, insulation, ventilation and moisture and drainage standards. Here is a quick summary of them:

Exemptions to the Heating standard

There are 3 exemptions to the heating standard:

1. It is not reasonably practicable to install one or more qualifying heaters.

A professional installer can't access the area without:
- substantial building work (e.g. replacing the walls)
- causing significant damage (e.g. would need to tear out the chimney)
- creating health and safety risk (e.g. the house has asbestos)
- otherwise not reasonably practicable to carry out work)

2. A 10% tolerance allowance for existing heaters.

If a landlord has installed a heating device before 1 July 2019 and the heating output is within 10% of the kilowatts required to heat the main living room, that heating device will meet the standard. No "top-up" will be required.

3. A passive building exemption

If a rental property is a certified passive building, it is exempt from the heating standard.

Following the feedback from the rental industry, the Government has announced changes to the Heating standard. Learn more about this here. The heating formula will be amended to allow smaller heating devices to be installed in new homes. (New rules are expected to come into force in April 2022)

Exemptions to the Insulation standard:

There are 3 exemptions to the standard:

1. Access if impracticable or unsafe

A professional installer is unable to access and/or insulate some areas of the home due to:
- House design,
- Limited access,
- Potential of substantial damage,
- Health and safety reasons
This exemption does not apply if a roof or subfloor space can be made accessible by installing an access hatch. Work required needs to be excessive in scale.

2. Partial exemption for underfloor insulation

If the home has existing insulation that was installed when the property was built or converted, and insulation met the required standards of the time, and it is still in reasonable condition.

3. Underfloor or ceiling spaces which are directly below or above habitable spaces

It will commonly be impracticable to install insulation in areas of ceiling or underfloor which are directly above or below habitable spaces. This might be another floor of the same property or another apartment. These areas do not require insulation to meet the HH insulation standard.

Exemptions to the Ventilation standard:

There are 2 exemptions concerning ventilation.

1. Lawful when built

A room doesn't need to meet the requirements for openable windows and external doors if it was lawful when it was built or converted into a habitable space. If there were alternative ventilation requirements at a time, the room still needs to meet these requirements.

2. Not reasonably practicable to install extractor fans

It is recommended for landlords to seek professional advice to apply this exemption.

Following the feedback from the rental industry, the Government has announced changes to the Ventilation standard. Learn more about this here. Continuous mechanical ventilation systems used in properties built to comply with the current building code will now also satisfy the standard. This applies to systems that received building consent on or after 1 November 2019. (New rules are expected to come into force in April 2022)

Exemption to the Moisture and drainage ingress standard

Landlords don't need to install a ground moisture barrier if impracticable

Rental properties don't need a ground moisture barrier if it's not reasonably practicable for a professional to install without causing substantial damage to the property, or if installing a barrier poses a health risk to the installer.

The exemption doesn't apply there is no existing designated access point into an otherwise accessible subfloor space, landlords are expected to create one to install a ground moisture barrier.

Following the feedback from the rental industry, the Government has announced changes to the Moisture and drainage standard. Learn more about this here. Landlords will be given an exemption to remove the need to install alternative moisture barriers where the installation of a polythene barrier isn’t reasonably practical. (New rules are expected to come into force in April 2022)

Exemption to the Draught stopping standard

A landlord does not need to block off the open fireplace if the tenant requests to use it

Tenants can ask landlords in writing not to close off existing open fireplace and keep it available for use, and a landlord can agree. The fireplace should still be in good working order, free from gaps and holes. The landlord can always choose to block the fireplace off temporarily or permanently.

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. does not accept any liability that may arise from the use of this information.


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