November 2020

It’s unlikely anybody escaped the media attention surrounding the new Healthy Homes Standards. Chances are if you own a rental property, you took extra note.  But really,  do you know what the government expects of you, as a landlord? If it’s all a bit confusing, we’re here to help you out.

Where do the new insulation regulations come from?

Let’s provide a bit of background first. The Healthy Homes Standards originated from government research into the link between the well-being and health of the tenants and rental property standards in New Zealand. The research showed that warmer and drier houses had less mould and mildew. As a consequence, the tenants’ health improved.

With 600,000  New Zealand households living in rental properties, that research got the government’s attention. After all, 600,000  families are a considerable amount. With the cost of health issues related to cold and damp houses that would trickle down to the public health system, healthy rentals became a priority.

Most landlords can see this and are more than willing to do their share to look after the families living in their rentals. But it’s not just a win for the tenants. Warm, well ventilated, and dry homes have considerably fewer maintenance issues in the longer term than their ignored counterparts.

So, what do the Healthy Homes Standards say?

The government identified five aspects of a property that contribute to a warm and dry home.

  • Insulation
  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Moisture and drainage
  • Draught stopping

What do the Healthy Homes Standards mean for Insulation? 

Insulation is one of these things you don’t miss,… until you experience it. A well-insulated home is a comfy home. There is also a direct correlation between the insulation quality and the dryness of a home, the cost of heating, and the amount of mould and dampness.  So on 1 July 2019, floor insulation and ceiling insulation became compulsory in all rentals.

Do you need to make any changes to your rental property? 

The previous 2016 regulations required that existing insulation in rentals had to meet certain R-values.  On top of that, the insulation had to be ‘in reasonable condition’. If any of these boxes were not ticked, new insulation needed to be installed by 1 July 2019.  However, rental properties built before 2008 that already had some form of insulation received some leeway. But those were the rules before 1 July 2019.

Fast forward to 2019 and The Healthy Homes Insulation Standard is now stepping up those minimum requirements. This means that if your rental did not need new insulation under the 2016 standards, chances are real that your rental property will now need a ceiling insulation ‘top-up’ or new underfloor insulation.

That said, if you’re a landlord who had insulation installed in 2016, you’re probably still fine. After all, you would expect insulation to remain in good condition for a good number of years. But it speaks for itself it’s a good idea to double-check all is still honky-dory.

What are the new Healthy Home Standards? 

 Healthy Homes Standards for Underfloor insulation 

  • Most concrete floors do not need underfloor insulation
  • Timber floors of a domestic living area must have underfloor insulation with an R-value of at least 1.3.
  • There is some exemption for draped foil insulation in houses built between 1978 and 2016 as long as it’s not ripped, damaged, or no longer shiny.

There’s a little bit more to it, but these are the essential outlines. The good news is that there is some time to get everything sorted. It’s a staggered approach.

Healthy Homes Standards for ceiling insulation

  • The minimum R-value of ceiling insulation depends on the climate zone you live in.
  • OR the existing ceiling insulation must be at least 120mm thick.
  • Insulation must be in reasonable condition. This means that compared to the time of installation, the thickness should not be reduced by over 30%.

What can Total House do to help you? 

At Total House Auckland, we do Healthy Homes Standards Inspections.

 If you think the new requirements are a minefield, we get it! It’s all rather technical with exemptions left, right, and centre. The important takeaway from this is not to make any assumptions.

Remember, from 1 December 2020 onwards, a compliance document needs to be included with any new or renewing tenancy agreement. Do you need to get your rental up to scratch to meet the new Healthy Homes standards? We’re fired up and ready to…

  • Do the Healthy Homes Rental Inspection and Report (this service is only available at Total House Auckland). We’ll identify any compliance issues and summarise them in the report.
  • Install your ceiling and underfloor insulation according to the Healthy Homes Standards. We choose all our product brands for their quality. They also come with a 50-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Total House installs home insulation from a number of leading insulation suppliers, including:

  • High-quality glass-wool underfloor and ceiling insulation from Bradford Insulation
  • Mammoth, New Zealand made polyester insulation, made from recycled plastic bottles
  • Earthwool, made from recycled glass bottles and natural products
  • Greenstuff, Made in New Zealand and accepted as a suitable product by Asthma New Zealand.

Have a chat with our friendly expert team about how we can help you best!