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NZ’s Healthy Homes Standards: Cosy or Costly? The Consequences of Falling Short

By Ella McLeod - 25 Jan 2024

Failure to meet the requirements under the Healthy Homes Standards can be a timely-wake up call for any landlord, especially when the Tenancy Tribunal comes knocking

Healthy Homes Standards and Compliance Dates

Introduced in July 2019, the Healthy Homes Standards aim to ensure tenants are living in safer, warmer and healthier rental properties.

Recently, a number of our clients have been drawn into Healthy Homes Standards disputes in the Tenancy Tribunal. What has come out of those proceedings is that it is very important for all parties to a tenancy to be fully aware of the rights and obligations associated under the Healthy Homes Standards regime.

The Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019 (HHS) provided for a minimum set of requirements for residential tenancies. By 1 July 2025, all private rental properties in New Zealand are required to meet the following standards for any new or renewed tenancy:

Heating Standard:

Landlords must provide a fixed heating source in the main living area of the property.

Insulation Standard:

Rental properties must have ceiling and underfloor insulation that meets specific requirements to keep the property warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Ventilation Standard:

Rental properties must have an extractor fan in both the bathroom and kitchen as well as openable windows and doors to reduce moisture and prevent mould growth.

Moisture and Drainage Standard:

Landlords are required to address any drainage problems and fix any leaks to prevent moisture from entering the property, including installing a ground moisture barrier in the subfloor space.

Draught Stopping Standard:

Landlords must ensure that the property is free from any unreasonable gaps or holes which let in cold air.

Although the deadline is set at 1 July 2025, compliance dates vary per tenancy until that date. Every private rental following a renewed or new tenancy after 1 July 2021, is required to comply with the standards within 120 days of that tenancy commencing.

To avoid any breaches and unexpected costs, it is best practice to check for compliance before commencing any new tenancy or renewal to avoid being taken to the Tenancy Tribunal by a tenant.

For time poor landlords, many companies offer healthy homes compliance inspections which can be tailored to suit and online assessments highlighting problematic areas in breach of the HHS.

Tenancy Services also provides in depth information on the specific standards, the penalties, and ways to become compliant.

Consequences of Breaching Healthy Homes Standards

Section 45(1)(bb) of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) requires compliance with the HHS and any breach of those obligations are deemed to be unlawful acts for which exemplary damages can be ordered. The maximum level of exemplary damages that can be ordered is $7,200.

The RTA provides jurisdiction for the Tenancy Tribunal to determine any dispute between a landlord and tenant, including for breaches of the Healthy Homes Standards.

Being taken to the Tenancy Tribunal and attending a hearing can be a daunting and time-consuming process. Importantly, any decision made at a Tenancy Tribunal hearing is final and becomes immediately binding on the losing party.

The Tenancy Tribunal is much less formal than a Court and has a much simpler process, however failing to properly prepare can lead to damages and exemplary costs being ordered.

The good news is, unlike the Disputes Tribunal, you can engage a lawyer to act on your behalf.

Given the HHS have now been in place for a few years, Tribunal Adjudicators are now inclined to issue much larger awards of damages against landlords who show a blatant disregard for compliance citing that they should be well aware of their responsibilities.

Failing to comply with the Healthy Homes Standards can be costly and complicated.

Contact our litigation law team to get legal advice regarding compliance before issues arise.


Ella McLeod

Tony Johnson

Darius Shahtahmasabi


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