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Win For Landlords Over Heating

A change of heart over standards is set to save thousands of dollars, writes Sally Lindsay.

By: Sally Lindsay

1 January 2022

Landlords will save thousands of dollars after the Government’s about-face on heating, ventilation, moisture and drainage rules under the Healthy Homes Standards.

It is changing the standards after feedback from the rental sector and harsh criticism by Tailrisk’s economist Ian Harrison, who said the methodology used to set a heating capacity standard in living rooms had serious deficiencies.

“The formula and the supporting analysis pushed capacity requirements about 30% above standard industry capacity assessments,” he said.

Landlords must provide one or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living room of rented properties. The heater(s) must meet the minimum heating capacity required.

Tenancy Services says after consultation, modelling and testing, changes have been made to the heating standard for new homes built to the 2008 Building Code through amendments to the Healthy Homes Standards expected to come into effect next April.

Smaller Devices

The Government says the changes to the heating standard will generally enable smaller heating devices to be installed in new homes or apartments built to the 2008 Building Code requirements.

The updated formula for these building types will ensure tenants benefit from a living room which can be heated to 18°C on the coldest day of the year.

To assist in transitioning to the new rules, private landlords of new homes built to the 2008 building code will benefit from a revised deadline to meet the heating standard. Their 90-day compliance period will not start until six months after the changes come into effect, providing a grace period of up to nine months.

The Government has also agreed to provide for more flexibility and cater for properties with innovative and energyefficient technologies.

Developers can access an alternative route to complying with the heating standard. Under this route, a specialist could certify that a rental home’s heating system is able to heat the living to 18°C on the coldest day of the year. In many developments a heating specialist will already be engaged for code compliance and/or design.

Where qualifying heaters were installed prior to July 1, 2019, the Government will also change the electric heater “top up” allowance from 1.5kW to 2.4kW. The trigger point to top up or replace existing heating installed before July 1, 2019 has also been revised to existing heaters that are at 80% of the required heating capacity, reduced from the current 90%. Once the heater needs to be replaced due to wear and tear it will have to meet the full requirement of the Healthy Homes Standards.

Other planned changes include providing an exemption from meeting the heating standard for the small number of rental properties which use direct geothermal heating for which the heating capacity is not stated.

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