An outline of the new regulations by Sharon Cullwick, Executive Officer of the NZ Property Investors’ Federation.
The Healthy Homes Standards (HHS) were introduced to ensure there would be minimum standards for heating, ventilation, insulation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draft stopping in all rental properties. All private rental houses must comply within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancy after 1 July 2021. However by 1 December 2020, a compliance certificate stating the current level of compliance must be included in any new or renewed tenancy agreements or any fixed term agreements that end before the relevant healthy homes compliance dates. This certificate must detail if the property complies and, if it doesn’t, then it must state when and how it will comply by the required date. This document is a requirement of the HHS and became law in July 2019.
A copy of the compliance statement can be found on the Tenancy Services web site or a landlord can develop his own and include in the tenancy agreement a signed statement that contains the same information. Completing this form does not negate the requirement since 1 July 2019 to include a statement in new, renewed or varied tenancy agreements that confirms landlords will or already do comply with the healthy homes standards. It is necessary to provide both, separately signed, statements.
As well as meeting these deadlines, a landlord must now keep a considerable amount of paperwork. Rental summaries, including rent increases and rent records, have always been required by the Tenancy Tribunal. Now a landlord must keep additional records for the HHS such as the Code of Compliance of a property, Land Information Memorandum (LIM) or the certificate of acceptance if no compliance has been gained.
In addition to these documents, it is necessary to have a copy of the assessment using the heating tool and the measurements used to determine the required heating capacity. All work done on the property, including photos of compliance, receipts from builders and tradespeople, needs to be documented and these records retained. Also required are any manuals or schedules for installed devices for the purpose of compliance with the HHS.
These documents must be available within a ten-day timeframe for the Tenancy Tribunal or the Tenancy Compliance and Investigation team should the landlord be investigated. If this timeframe is not met, and there is no valid excuse, the landlord will be committing an unlawful act which could result in financial penalties.
All documents relating to the rental home must be kept during the tenancy and for 12 months after the tenancy ends. Retention of all financial information such as rent and bond records remains the same timeframe of 7 years after the tax year in which they relate.
Although it is not compulsory to have an independent qualified person complete the compliance certificate, this professional will have the skills to perform the task and therefore it may be cheaper and easier for them to do it. Just be aware that the landlord is still responsible for the property being Healthy Homes compliant and cannot pass on this liability to a tradesperson.
Landlords are urged to complete the Healthy Homes Standards requirements as soon as possible. The effects of Covid-19 on the supply chains have meant that there is, for example, a shortage of heat-pumps available in the country. Once heat pump supplies increase there may not then be enough tradespeople to complete the work within the 1July 2021 timeframe.
Further details can be found at: https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/assets/Forms-templates/compliance-statement.pdf