As of 1 July 2019, all private rental properties must comply with these standards within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy. However, in 2021, a study of over 14,000 inspections showed that almost three-quarters of properties failed their inspections.
We’re here to break down the most common causes of failure and what you can do to prevent them.
Draughts are the number one culprit for failed inspections.
Draught stopping was the most common reason for failure in the 2021 study. Generally, gaps wider than 3mm in or around walls, ceilings, windows, doors and floors are prohibited and will cause a failure. Smaller gaps or gaps that allow a lot of cold air in may also fail an inspection.
When you’re checking for gaps, if a $2 coin fits into the space, it needs to be sealed. Check the junctions between walls and the floor/ceiling, windows, and the gaps between doors and the floor.
Other common causes of failure are poorly-fitted pet doors and open fireplaces (if they’re unused), so if a property has either of these, double check them before your next inspection.
If you have agreed with your tenant in writing that the fireplace will be left open, then that won’t cause a failure, but you must keep written documentation and treat this as part of your tenancy agreements.
Insulation can also cause a lot of confusion.
Insulation is a tricky category as the requirements vary greatly, depending on:
- type of home
- date of installation.
The performance of insulation is measured by resistance (also called R-value), but the width of insulation is also a consideration.
If your insulation were installed before July 2016, its required R-value would be lower than if installed after. You can check the specific R-value requirements on this page.
The most common problem here is that insulation settles over time and loses thickness and resistance. Ceiling insulation that settles and compresses to 70% of its initial thickness, or below 120mm, is not considered to be in reasonable condition and must be replaced or topped up.
Another common issue that requires attention is moisture, especially if a property has extractor fans that vent into the roof space. All kitchen and bathroom ventilation must be externally ducted to the outside of the property - the roof cavity is no longer an acceptable exit point for ducting. The root cause of the moisture should always be addressed first before any repairs take place.
Because of the number of variables involved, we generally recommend getting a professional inspector in to assess insulation and find the most cost-effective way to bring a property up to compliance if it requires it.
Heating requirements are strict but have been updated.
Recently, the Government announced changes to heating requirements for homes built to the 2008 Building Code, and/or apartment buildings with three or more levels and six or more units in the complex. You can calculate if a home is compliant with heating standards using this calculator, which factors in the changes. Any properties that do not meet this criteria will still be subject to the original heating calculation.
In addition to this, if your home has been built or renovated to the 2008 Building Code, the tolerance for existing heating has been lowered from 90% to 80%. However, this is only a transitional exemption, meaning that when the existing heat pump reaches its end of life, the unit must be replaced with a new unit that meets the full calculated heat loss requirement.
If you have existing heating (installed prior to 1 July 2019) and there is a shortfall between the requirement and what is already installed, the new amendment allows for electric panel heaters to be used to top up IF the shortfall is 2.4kW or less. The panel heater must still meet the compliance criteria of being a minimum of 1.5kW, fixed to the wall of the living room and fitted with a thermostat.
All properties that were confirmed as compliant before the amendment will still be compliant.
Staircases and hallway spaces adjacent to the living area are where a lot of landlords get caught out. The heating requirements for the main living area factor in all connected spaces - meaning open plan living areas, and any rooms that cannot be closed off, increase the amount of heating required.
To wrap things up...
It’s important to note that a house being built to the 2008 Building Code standards may not be compliant through and through. With that said, those houses will likely have an easier time meeting compliance requirements than older properties.
If you’re ready to book a Healthy Homes inspection for your property, you can head on over to warmfuzzies.co.nz/inspections to get started if you’re in Auckland, Christchurch or Dunedin.