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Landlords: How to get your heating sorted

With winter on the way, it’s a good time to prepare your rental property to meet the healthy homes heating standard.

What you need to do

If you own a rental property, you must meet the healthy homes standards by the compliance date, beginning 1 July 2021. These standards aim to make rental properties warmer, drier and healthier. There are five standards that must be met to improve heating, insulation, ventilation and drainage, stop draughts and reduce moisture entering the premises from outside.

New healthy homes standards for rental properties

To meet the requirements of the heating standard, you must provide one or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living room, which is the largest room that's used for general, everyday living.

Because every region and property layout in New Zealand is different, your heating requirements will be unique to each rental property.

Rental properties: New laws now in effect

Heating the main living room to 18˚C doesn’t necessarily mean you are compliant with the law.

Heating the main living room to 18˚C doesn’t necessarily mean you are compliant with the law.

It’s about having fixed heaters that are an acceptable type and meet a minimum heating capacity in kilowatts.

How to get it done

Heating assessment tool

To work out how to heat your rental to the standard, Tenancy Services has created the heating assessment tool. Once completed, the tool will confirm the capacity of heater you must provide to meet your obligations. The tool will ask you questions about:

  • what region your home is in
  • how much space you need to heat
  • what surfaces (walls, windows and doors) heat can escape through
  • how well these surfaces are insulated.

Heating assessment tool (external link) — Tenancy Services

Information to prepare

Before you get started, you’ll need to:

  • gather information about your property’s age and location
  • measure the main living room’s size including any areas open to it
  • calculate the size of the areas
  • assess insulation and produce estimates where you can.

It’s a good idea to read through the heating assessment tool guide from Tenancy Services beforehand to help get your measurements and calculations right.

Heating assessment tool guide (external link) — Tenancy Services

For existing heaters

In some circumstances, you may not have to add more heating. This would apply if you have one or more existing heaters that:

  • were installed before 1 July 2019
  • each have a heating capacity of at least 1.5kW
  • have a combined total heating capacity that is at least 90 per cent of what is required
  • meet the following general requirements for heaters:
    • provide heat directly to the main living room
    • are fixed to the home
    • have a thermostat if it’s an electric heater or heat pump
    • aren’t an open fire, unflued gas heater or other unflued combustion heater.

Case study

Connor's rental property

Connor is the landlord of a property in Invercargill with an open plan lounge and dining area. This is the main living room in the rental. There is an existing electric heater that was installed in January 2016, which is fixed to the property and directly heats the main living room. Connor checks whether it is an allowable heater under the heating standard. He notices it has a thermostat and heating capacity of 2.0kW, and concludes it is an allowable heater. But Connor still doesn’t know if the heater is enough to meet his legal obligations under the healthy home standards.

Connor uses the heating assessment tool to determine if the heater has sufficient capacity to heat the area. As the property’s lounge and dining area are open to each other, the total space makes up the ‘main living room’ area that Connor needs to consider.

He realises he needs to provide extra heating capacity of 3.0kW to heat his living room. The heating standard only allows a 'top-up' if the required extra capacity is 1.4kW or less, so the 'top-up' option doesn't apply to him.

Connor decides to purchase a 5kW heat pump for the space. He leaves the existing electric heater in the property, as he is planning to increase the size of the main living room in future. In the meantime, it’s available to the tenants to use if they wish in addition to the new heat pump.

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