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In December 2017, the Government passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act. This Act amended the Residential Tenancies Act and enables standards to be made to make rental homes warmer and drier. The standards set minimum requirements to create warmer, drier rental homes (the healthy homes standards)*.
The changes will require landlords to guarantee any new tenancy must be either properly insulated or contain a heating source able to make the home warm and dry.
The proposed standard also requires all bathrooms and kitchens to have mechanical extract ventilation, in addition to opening windows in habitable rooms (living room, dining room, kitchen and bedrooms)*. Mechanical ventilation, such as extractor fans or rangehoods, is easy to use and noticeably improves the ventilation in a home, reducing the incidence of mould forming.
The issue with the heating component is that heating a home won’t make it dry. Without properly-designed and installed whole home ventilation, dampness and mould can continue to grow in a home, despite a landlord’s best efforts in heating and insulating the property.
There are 625,900 Kiwis living in rental properties in NZ – and many of them are struggling through winter. NZ’s housing stock is poor, often riddled with mould and mildew which severely affects our health, especially if we have respiratory illnesses. Some tenants are saying they can’t afford the heating systems their landlords are installing for them as well – a factor that could be reversed if the house was properly ventilated and insulated – as drier homes are easier to heat.
If you’re a landlord, especially in lower socio-economic areas, you can address the three key factors needed to create a healthy home in your rental; insulation, heating and ventilation – we call it the ‘healthy home triangle’. This will help bring electricity costs down so tenants will use their heating, while also keeping your investment free from damage caused by excess moisture, dampness and mould. And, most importantly, it will help keep your tenants healthy through winter.
Tenants are also likely to stay longer in a rental property that’s warm and doesn’t compromise their health, reducing the costs of high tenant turnover – not to mention the fact they’ll respect the home more. Those in a damp/cold home are more likely to suffer avoidable illness, often resulting in unplanned medical bills and time off work. Unexpected financial burdens like this increase the risk of missed rent payments.
Although it’s likely you may need to increase the rent to cover these investments, ask yourself whether your tenants would rather live in an unhealthy dwelling which is cheaper to live in or a healthy, warm and dry one that will improve their lives and decrease their bills elsewhere such as going to the doctor. Improving your property makes it a more desirable prospect, tenants pay more, a purchaser will pay more if you decide to sell, and you'll see less ongoing maintenance costs from dampness, mould and damage to expensive items such as carpet and curtains.
Unovent, and our team of nationwide Certified Installers, can provide you with a simple solution to any excess moisture, dampness, condensation or mould issues your rental may have. All Unovent ventilation systems come with an 'Unobrain', meaning if the roof space goes below 8 degrees, above 28 degrees or 85% humidity, the system will automatically shut off ensuring very cold or hot air will not be brought into the home. There are no fancy control panels either for a tenant to tamper with - it's an install (which we organise for you) and forget system giving you peace of mind it will always be doing what you wanted it to do. Unovent systems also come with a 10-year warranty, are up to half the price of other ventilation systems and have no complicated ducting. Best of all, it costs less than $1 a month to run so your tenants will hardly notice it on their power bill. If anything, Unovent will help power bills decrease as the home will now be drier and therefore easier to heat!
Our installers will be able to bring your rentals properties up to standard quickly and efficiently with little or no fuss to your tenants. Request a free quote today or purchase a system (including installation) online.
*For more information, please visit the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development.