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.
1 November 2022
Landlords have two years to achieve full compliance for Healthy Homes. It’s been enmeshed in tenancy law since July 1, 2021 for all new or renewed tenancies to comply with the act, but landlords with long-term tenants have until July 1, 2024 to meet all the standards.
In order to help landlords make the right decisions around Healthy Homes legislation, New Zealand Property Investor magazine is running a three-part series covering heating, ventilation, and moisture ingress/drainage in rental properties.
First up is heating: read on for all the information you need to get your homes up to standard.
The heating standards are based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that the indoor temperature within homes needs to be 18deg throughout the year. Many heating options won’t achieve this, therefore there are specific requirements for heating that must be followed under the act.
The heating devices in rental properties:
- must be fixed (not portable)
- must directly heat the main living room of the house
- 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 in which to calculate the minimum heating capacity needed for main living rooms of rental properties. However, some consider this tool to be confusing and contradictory.
Nikolas Gladiadis, of Healthy Homes compliance organisation Tasman Compliance Group, says “confusion reigns” when it comes to the heating tool. “People could get caught out with undersizing or oversizing of heaters in spaces, because the tool is overcomplicated,” he says.
‘People could get caught out with undersizing or oversizing of heaters in spaces’ Nikolas Gladiadis
Given this, it pays to chat to a heating installation expert before making a decision around your best option.
Heat pumps are generally a logical option for most investors as they have several benefits over other heating options. Purchase and installation costs are high compared to some other forms of heating, but running costs can save hundreds of dollars a year for the user.
The size of the heat pump required will vary, depending 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 $1500-$1900 plus installation, which can be between $800-$1000. There are several businesses and organisations offering 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 homebuyers if the home is sold]
- include air filtering options, particularly beneficial to those with asthma and allergies.
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. However, there are pros and cons.
While they provide 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. Panel heaters 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. Most notably 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 visit Tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes