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Tips to help landlords

A three-part series, which starts in this issue, provides a guide to heating, ventilation, and moisture ingress/ drainage in rental properties


30 April 2023

By July 1, 2025, all private rental properties must comply fully with the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act. The regulations came into tenancy law on July 1, 2021, with all new or renewed tenancies needing to comply with the Act within 120 days of the agreement. But landlords with long-term tenants still have until July 1, 2025 to meet all the standards.

Unpackaging the regulations can be tricky. In this, the first in a series that helps landlords understand their obligations around Healthy Homes legislation, New Zealand Property Investor looks at heating.


The heating standards are based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that the indoor temperature within homes needs to be 18 degrees throughout the year. Many heating options won’t achieve this, and there are very specific requirements for heating covered in the Act.

The heating devices in rental properties:

• must be fixed (not portable)

• must directly heat the main living room of the house

• must have a heating capacity of at least 1.5kW

• if electric, must have a thermostat

• must not be an open fire or unflued combustion heater.

Suitable heating devices include heat pumps, fixed electric heaters with a thermostat, wood burners or flued gas heaters.

The tenancy.govt.nz website provides a tool with which landlords can calculate the minimum heating capacity needed for main living rooms of rental properties. However, this can be slightly hard to understand, and it is often best to seek help when considering your heating choices. There are many companies that offer services around this compliance, but do your homework first, as this industry is not regulated.


Heat pumps are generally a logical option for investors, and they have several advantages. Purchase and installation costs are high compared with some other forms of heating, but running costs can save users hundreds of dollars a year.

The size of the heat pump will depend on the size of the room and other factors such as window placement and sun catchment. A larger heat pump may cost up to $800-$900 per annum to run, whereas a smaller one can cost less than $200 a year.

Mid-range heat-pump units, with a 3-6kW capacity, are priced between about $1700-$1900 plus installation, which can be between $800-$1000. There are businesses and organisations that offer quotes, installation costs and advice, plus online tools to find the best deal for your property.

Heat pumps are considered the best option because:
• they are considered the most energy efficient form of electric heating
• they are also able to cool a home during those sweltering days in summer
• dehumidifying capacity helps remove dampness and damaging mould
• popular with home buyers if the home is sold
• include air filter options, particularly beneficial to those with asthma and allergies

Heat pumps are a popular choice for investors. While costly to install their running costs are lower than other options

‘There are businesses and organisations that offer quotes, installation costs and advice’


Pellet heating is a system in which wood pellets are combusted. This is the common source of heating for central heating systems, but can also be purchased and installed as a freestanding model or inserted into a fireplace. They are more reliable in areas where heat pumps can freeze over, such as the lower South Island. The energy efficiency of pellet heating is comparable to gas.

While pellet heaters cover heating and hot water even in the coldest environments, they are expensive to purchase and install. But in the case of a power outage they will provide 12 hours of heat, and they can save costs of heating annually.

Panel heaters are a form of electric heating that has also become popular for rental properties. They work quickly and reduce waiting times, which can help reduce heating costs during colder months. Most panel heaters on the market are available in watts rather than kW, making them possibly less effective in heating large spaces. Smaller models can be an excellent option in smaller rooms: the cost to run these heaters is between 23-31 cents per kW.


There are several sites and tools available for landlords to compare and review different heating options for their rental properties. Consumer.org.nz offers price and efficiency comparisons for all types of heating available on the general market. There are also companies that offer obligation-free quotes and advice and these can be found online. Some property management businesses also offer free Healthy Homes assessments for landlords. For more information on your obligations visit Tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes


Compliance with Healthy Homes has resulted in more pressure and workload for landlords who also have to understand what the legislation means. The government has not helped itself because there have been issues with the heating calculator that resulted in amendments in May 2022. These needed to be made as the previous calculator did not take into account correct building requirements under the 2008 building code.

This led to frustration as landlords not familiar with the legislation could not understand how new builds were failing the calculation.

There are many benefits to using a professional property manager in dealing with such complex matters. They should have a solid understanding of the legislation as they are working with it daily, and they typically have access to Healthy Homes assessors who can complete the assessments for you as well as access heating solutions to ensure your asset is compliant and your tenants warm and dry.

If your property does not meet the heating standards, then your property manager can take steps so you are not burdened with the added pressure of contacting trade suppliers.

Overall, using a professional property manager will save time, money and reduce stress. It should also give you some protection because they are arranging assessments and taking on the responsibility of being the landlord.


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