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Keeping Drainage And Moisture Off The Worry List

In the final of a three-part series on Healthy Homes requirements we look at correct drainage and prevention of moisture ingress.

By: NZ PROPERTY INVESTOR

31 August 2022

With climate change causing above-average rainfall and air moisture recorded in many parts, the Healthy Homes provisions around drainage and moisture ingress are timely. All these standards need to be met by July 1, 2024 for all rentals: with any new or renewed tenancy requiring full adherence to the provisions immediately.

The correct drainage systems, and the prevention of moisture ingress, are imperative for keeping homes warm and dry.

The specifications for correct drainage are listed on the Tenancy Services website and the requirements are multifaceted, with the following needing to be in place in all rental homes: efficient, clean and working gutters that carry water away from all parts of the roof; gutters connected to downpipes; gutters installed sufficiently and maintained to eliminate water build-up or stagnant water.

Generally, downpipes from guttering will flow out to stormwater drains. However, there may also be a properly working soakage system, natural watercourse, adequate water storage system or other constructed waterway, as stipulated by the Moisture Ingress and Drainage Guide available on the Tenancy Services website.

If you have recently bought a rental property you may have a report from a building surveyor, which will include the current state of the property’s drainage systems and guttering. In other cases the property’s drainage must be checked and up-to-date, depending on the type of tenancy. Some of these checks may be done by a landlord or tenant. However, if you don’t know where the drainage is, or if the guttering is not working efficiently, it may need an inspection.

Air Flow Vital

Moisture ingress refers to water penetration of the building from the outside. Water can penetrate through the walls and floor of the home if there is a lack of air flow within the foundation area or subfloor. This is prevented by having sufficient air flow, which keeps the subfloor area dry enough to counteract moisture rising into the home’s flooring, and having a ground moisture barrier installed beneath the floor.

According to the Healthy Homes Act, rental properties with suspended floors, where the subfloor space is enclosed, must have a ground moisture barrier unless it is not reasonably practicable to install one.

Landlords need to ensure any existing moisture barrier installed before July 1, 2019 is free from significant holes or tears which could allow moisture through. Existing ground moisture barriers need to be checked for signs of moisture on the surface: moisture found in this inspection could be due to incorrect drainage, or leaking pipes, and would generally need to be dealt with by the correct professional.

Do Your Homework

Inspections for drainage and moisture ingress are best undertaken by professionals who specialise in Healthy Homes certification. There are many available online, but do your homework. The industry is still in its fledgling stage and there are some unscrupulous operators out there.

“I call it the wild west,” laughs Nikolas Gladiadis, of Tasman Compliance Group, who specialise in meth testing and Healthy Homes inspections.

He recommends property managers or landlords who manage their own homes do “due diligence around who they choose”.

“Ask questions, find out their level of experience. What is their background? At the moment anyone can set themselves up as a Healthy Homes inspector and if you are taken to Tenancy Tribunal for a possible breach of the rules, the inspectors don’t have to take any responsibility.”

‘Companies should provide certification and a detailed list of each area checked’

There are several companies offering full Healthy Homes assessments, starting at around $250, but specific costs to amend issues are variable. You will be looking at $1000-$1500 for a new ground moisture barrier installed, and drainage solutions are likely to be upwards of $1000.

Companies should provide certification and a detailed list of each area checked, alongside any issues. This certification needs to be held in case of Tenancy Tribunal claims – it is a checklist that can furnish any case with evidence if a tenant decides to make a claim against their landlord. Property managers are a great resouce for ensuring you are adhering to the regulations around healthy homes, so if you use one, ask them for advice.

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