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The Prognosis Could Be Better

The Prognosis Could Be Better

The Healthy Homes standards have served their purpose, but a different treatment is now required, argues David Faulkner.

By: David Faulkner

3 June 2024

The Healthy Homes standards, introduced on July 1, 2019, aimed to improve substandard rental properties, a move widely celebrated by many groups.

The standards have undoubtedly improved the quality of our properties. However, after reviewing their implementation I have concluded they are no longer fit for purpose.

I certainly do not argue against having minimum standards. We need them to ensure tenants are protected. However, there have been many issues with the implementation and plenty of missed opportunities along the way.

Database Idea

In hindsight, the state should have collected all Healthy Homes reports to create a database of compliant and non-compliant properties. This would allow prospective tenants to check the Healthy Homes status of any address.

Over time, the state would have captured records of every rental property in New Zealand, meaning targeting non-compliant landlords would be far easier. As things stand, no-one knows how many compliant and non-compliant properties there are in New Zealand.

The second issue is the quality of some assessors. No qualifications are required and anyone can carry out an assessment. We have dealt with multiple occasions where assessments have been undertaken and houses have passed, only to discover, sometimes years later, that items that had been ticked off hadn’t been completed.

In one case we have even had three separate companies assess one house with three completely different outcomes. The first report undertaken by a nationwide company passed the house three years ago.

The house was then placed on the market for sale. The purchaser got a different company to assess the property post-settlement. This company then failed the house in four categories. This seemed highly unlikely, as some of the failings meant the dimensions of the property had changed. A third report was then undertaken, with one of the criteria failing but with different dimensions to the second and first reports. How can anyone trust what is being placed in front of them?

The next issue is that the legislation needs to indicate how long a report is valid. Some companies have put expiry dates on their reports, but the sceptic in me believes this is being done for repeat business.

Keep It Simple

The concept of “keep it simple” did not apply when the standards were being implemented. After a mistake was spotted on heating standards, we had multiple changes to contend with, such as dates and R-Values.

This has created much confusion. We have also had conflicting reports on what you need to produce with your tenancy agreement. To indicate how complicated things have become, the Tenancy Services Tenancy Agreement is now 25 pages long, including a 16-page Healthy Homes agreement. For many people such agreements can seem daunting.

The standards have more problems. Heating calculations and insulation are fine but others, such as draught stopping and drainage, are open to interpretation.

From a property management point of view, managing these standards is an ongoing concern that creates unnecessary administration and extra work. There are also issues with finding suitably qualified people to undertake the inspections for the Healthy Homes statement.


There must be an easier way. Let’s focus more on the property’s performance and implement an Energy Star rating system, like Energy Performance Certifications used in the UK.

A rental property must meet a certain standard before being leased. A star rating system would be far easier to use and much simpler for tenants to understand. We also need to create a database of properties with Energy Stars displayed on advertisements and tenancy agreements.

The Healthy Homes standards have served their purpose and got things moving in the right direction. Still, they are no longer fit for purpose and a different mentality is required to help fix and measure the quality of rental properties in New Zealand.

David Faulkner is the General Manager of Property Management for Property Brokers and is recognised as one of the leading experts in the New Zealand Property Management industry. He has been involved in the industry developing robust policies and procedures, training, and consultation services for many years. propertybrokers.co.nz