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Healthy Homes Heat Pump Issues

The Healthy Homes standards’ specified heat pump sizes continue to cause issues for landlords and tenants, writes Sharon Cullwick.

By: Sharon Cullwick

1 October 2021

From July 2021, any new or renewed tenancy agreement requires a private rental property to be upgraded to the Healthy Homes standards. These standards cover the heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping and moisture ingress/drainage. All rental properties must meet these standards by July 1, 2024, apart from boarding houses which should already be compliant.

Under the heating provision, all rental properties must have one or more fixed heaters. These must directly heat the main living room to at least 18°C and maintain this temperature all year round. The minimum heating source must be capable of 1.5kW of heating capacity. Only efficient, affordable and healthy heating devices are permitted.

To establish whether a rental property meets the Healthy Homes standards’ requirement, a heating assessment tool has been developed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. It is on the Tenancy Services website – www.tenancy.govt.nz/heating-tool. Alternatively, a formula, which is outlined in the regulations, can be used. The results from the heating tool and the formula are slightly different.

This heating tool must be used to ensure that the rental property complies with the requirements. However, many landlords are finding that some certified heat pump installers are not aware of the Healthy Home standards as they apply to rental properties. The requirements for these are higher than the airflow volume calculations, which are used for owner-occupier homes.

This heating tool requires basic details to be entered, like the age of the house and location. Some research may be required to establish, for instance, if any exterior walls are insulated. Then measurements need to be taken of the largest living space. Any adjoining areas where the room cannot be closed off need to be included. To ensure that the results from the heating tool are as accurate as possible, the living room walls, floor, windows, ceiling and any other features need to be measured. After entering these details into the heating tool, a report is generated to indicate the minimum heating capacity required. This report should be kept as a reference that the property complies with the Healthy Homes standards.

The heating tool’s heat pump requirements are very different from those specified by an air conditioning specialist for an owner-occupied property. In most situations, the heat pump required for a rental will be about 20-30% larger. In the past, very few houses needed a heat pump above 7kW. However, these are common now for rental homes. This inevitably will make the houses warm for tenants, but the running costs will be considerably higher.

So many properties where heat pumps were previously installed, including new properties, require additional heaters or new heat pumps to meet the Healthy Homes standards. New Zealand Property Investors Federation has asked for building code changes so that any new property, whether a rental or an owneroccupier, will meet the Healthy Homes standards without the need to install larger heat pumps retrospectively.

More details can be found on the tenancy services website. https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/he... heating-standard/

Sharon Cullwick, Executive Officer, NZ Property Investors’ Federation

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