Rental properties

There are specific requirements for residential properties that are rented out that don’t apply to owner-occupied homes. Some requirements are already in effect, others will become compulsory in coming years.

Smoke alarms

Under the Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 all rental homes must have smoke alarms:

  • Alarms must be photoelectric hard wired or battery powered with a battery life of at least 8 years.
  • Installed in each sleeping space or within 3 metres of the entrance to a sleeping space.
  • On each floor of a multi-storey home.
  • For battery powered alarms, it is the tenant’s responsibility to ensure the battery is replaced at the end of its life.

Existing working smoke alarms must be replaced after they have passed their expiry date (printed on the back of the alarm.) If there is no expiry date, alarms older than 10 years from date of manufacture must be replaced.

You can find more information here.

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Insulation requirements introduced in 2016

The Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 set out a requirement for ceiling and underfloor insulation in rental homes where it is reasonably practical to install it. The legal requirement came into effect on 1 July 2019.

The ceiling insulation must be:

  • At least R2.9 in the North Island excluding the central plateau
  • At least R3.3 in the South Island and the central plateau of the North Island

If ceiling insulation was installed before 1 July 2016, it will comply if it was minimum R1.9 (or R1.5 in masonry construction).

Underfloor insulation must be at least R1.3 (or R0.9 if installed before 1 July 2016.)

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Healthy homes standards

New requirements for rental properties were introduced as part of the Government’s Healthy homes standards announced in February 2019. The healthy homes standards come into force for privately-owned rental properties and boarding houses on 1 July 2021. Owners must ensure that their properties comply with HHS within 90 days of any tenancy that starts or is renewed after 1 July 2021. The standards apply to all rental homes from 1 July 2024.

From 1 December 2020, a healthy homes standards compliance statement must be included in most new or renewed tenancy agreements. It is not required if the tenancy is for a fixed term that will end before the relevant healthy homes compliance date. More information and a template can be found on the Tenancy Services website

Regarding insulation, the standards do not require anything more from landlords who have installed insulation to meet the requirements of the 2016 Regulations.

The healthy homes insulation standard says that the minimum level of ceiling and underfloor insulation must either comply with the 2008 Building Code, or, where there is existing ceiling insulation, it must have a minimum thickness of 120 mm.

The healthy homes insulation standard affects a group of rental homes that did not have to be retrofitted with insulation under the 2016 Regulations because they already had around 70–120 mm of ceiling insulation. These homes will now have to top-up the insulation to a minimum 120 mm.

Other requirements in the healthy homes standards include:

  • providing a heater that can heat the main living area to 18°C in winter (see the Heating Assessment Tool for guidance)
  • installing extract fans or rangehoods in kitchens and bathrooms. (G4/AS1 has been updated to include installing mechanical extract fans in rooms with cooktops, showers and baths as a means of demonstrating compliance)(see Tenancy Services’ Ventilation Tool for guidance)
  • laying a ground moisture barrier (polythene laid over the ground under a house with a suspended floor) to stop moisture rising into the home (for homes with an enclosed subfloor space)
  • ensuring there is adequate drainage and guttering to prevent water entering the home
  • preventing draughts that make a home harder to heat – blocking off open fires and draught-stopping gaps wider than 3 mm.