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Rental Properties Failing Healthy Homes Inspections

By Donna Jones

Data from an inspection company shows only a quarter of New Zealand rental properties are passing their Healthy Homes Standards compliance inspections on the first attempt.

Across the 14,000 inspections Betta Property Compliance has completed to assess rental properties’ level of Healthy Homes Standards (HHS) compliance, the national average first-time pass rate is an abysmal 25%.

What are the healthy homes standards?

The Healthy Homes Standards — which became law on 1 July 2019 — lay out the standards residential rental properties must meet across key criteria: heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping. Compliance has been phased in over the past three years.

From 1 July 2020, landlords had to provide a Healthy Homes Compliance statement in all new, varied, or renewed tenancy agreements, outlining their existing level of compliance.

As of 1 July 2021, all private landlords have had to ensure their rental property is compliant with Healthy Homes Standards within 90 days of all new or renewed tenancies.

From 1 July 2024, all NZ rental homes will need to comply with Healthy Homes Standards.

Learn more about the Healthy Homes Standards.

Where are rental properties failing the healthy homes inspections?

Compliance with HHS involves an inspection of the property by an approved provider. Betta Property Compliance has found that of the more than 14,000 inspections they’ve completed throughout New Zealand, a national average of only 25% have passed the first time.

Regions reporting the worst pass rates were Waikato/Taranaki with 9% and the West Coast with 12%, while averages across Taupo/Rotorua/Bay of Plenty and Southland were all 14%. Half a dozen regions had an average first-time pass rate of between 20–25% (Whangarei, Auckland, Manawatū/Wellington, Canterbury, South Canterbury, and Otago).

The highest first-time pass rates were seen in Blenheim/Nelson (38%) and Queenstown (68%).

Why aren’t New Zealand rentals passing healthy homes inspection?

Managing director of Betta Property Compliance, Matt Mason, explained that there were varying pass rates across the six different standards against which they assess each property’s compliance.

Compliance with the insulation standard was very healthy with national average pass rates of 81% for ceiling insulation and 91% for underfloor insulation, showing most landlords have been receptive to government directives since the HHS came into effect.

Ventilation standard compliance recorded by the inspection company was very healthy as well — a national average pass rate of 96% recorded.

The standards with poorer pass rates included moisture barriers which prevent moisture ingress (76%), heating (67%), drainage and guttering (67%), and the lowest performer was draughts with a national average pass rate of just 46%.

Mason reported a lack of awareness around draughts, which is why landlords are behind on this standard. He noted that there is indeed remedial work being carried out on rental properties and many that fail their initial inspection have since passed.

Is remedial work being completed fast enough?

The law requires landlords and property managers to have their rental properties HHS-compliant within 90 days of all new or renewed tenancies.

There are currently mixed views around whether or not remedial work is being completed quickly enough to achieve compliance within the necessary timeframe. Anyone dragging their heels with this work runs the risk of their compliance coming too late with factors like appliance and installer capacity shortages potentially lengthening the process.

We are currently facing longer than usual wait times to complete compliance works for our McPherson Property Management rental properties due to the reduction in supply, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Heat pump units and rangehoods are among the items we are currently waiting on.

While we hope to see these delays subside, there are still a number of properties that have completed their HHS statement which are not compliant and require remedial work, therefore the delay in stock is likely to continue.

Get the compliance ball rolling now to avoid delays and penalties

Because of the backlog, we suggest landlords start working towards HHS compliance sooner rather than later, even if the timing of your tenancy means you aren’t required to comply right away. Setting things in motion sooner will help you avoid delays and potential penalties for non-compliance.

Get in touch with us if you’re unsure about your road to Healthy Homes Standards compliance.

Image:

‘Healthy homes protest’ by Harry via CC BY 2.0.

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