The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act (2017)1 improves the quality of rental homes in New Zealand by setting new standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture, and drainage. The Act aims to reduce inequality between renters and homeowners, particularly for low income, Maori and Pacific islanders, and single-parents, by ensuring access to warm, dry, and healthy homes for nearly 1.4 million renters.
The Healthy Homes Guarantee Act (HHGA), passed in 2017,2 provides protections for renters, particularly those from lower-income and ethnic minority communities, who are more likely to experience both financial strain and racialized discrimination by landlords. By regulating the rental market to improve the quality of housing available, the Act seeks to ensure renters have access to adequate housing regardless of their income or background.
The legislation consists of several requirements including minimum heating capabilities, insulation requirements, and draught prevention to provide adequate warmth without creating unnecessary financial strain for the tenant. The new law requires landlords to guarantee that any new tenancy from July, 2019 must be either properly insulated or contain a heating source able to make the home warm and dry. A grant of up to NZD 2,000 (1,300 USD) is available for eligible landlords to upgrade their stock.3 Online tools and support are also available to landlords who would like to learn the details of making their rental property compliant. The author was unable to find additional information on the act’s enforcement. We will update the policy when we receive the information after reaching out for more details.
All tenancies must meet the new standards by July 1, 2025—this was extended by 12 months to account for extra building pressures due to supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19.4 Private landlords who start or renew a tenancy between July 1, 2021 and August 27, 2022 must ensure their rental properties meet the healthy homes standards within 90 days. Private landlords who start or renew a tenancy on or after August 28, 2022 must ensure their rental properties meet healthy homes standards within 120 days. Social housing providers have until July 1, 2024 (previously July 1, 2023) to comply. Landlords who do not meet their obligations may be liable for exemplary damages of up to NZD 7,200 (USD 4,66.).
The author was unable to find information regarding the cost of the policy.
The policy’s adoption is a victory in itself as it aims to empower tenants who usually have limited to no control over landlords’ maintenance of their properties. The act has survived political backlash from the National (center-right) Party, who contended that it would not help homeowners, and that it was unclear how much it would cost landlords.5
Awareness of the Act is now relatively wide-spread. In 2020, a study of renters and landlords found that 75 percent of renters and 97 percent of landlords were aware of the healthy homes standards. Furthermore, 77 percent of landlords were aware of the financial penalties for non-compliance.6
The extension of the private rental compliance deadline was criticized for giving landlords an extra year to comply with healthy homes standards due to the impacts of COVID-19.7 It was criticized for its perceived double standards between landlords and renters and the potential impact on the latter, many of whom are hospitalized annually due to inadequate housing conditions.
The New Zealand government passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017, which introduced standards to help make rental homes warmer and drier as a part of the Healthy Homes Initiative. Thereafter, the Residential Tenancies Regulations 2019 set new requirements for insulation, heating, ventilation, draught-stopping, and moisture ingress and drainage. The heating standard was amended in May 2022, to reflect the fact that new homes built or renovated to the 2008 building code have higher thermal performance and require smaller heaters. In July 2022, the deadline for compliance was extended to 1 July 2025.
- 1. “Healthy Homes Guarantee Act 2017.” 2017. NZ Government Legalization. December 2017. https://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2017/0046/25.0/whole.html
- 2. “Healthy Homes Bill: Setting New Standards for Rental Homes.” 2016. NZ Parliament. August 2016. https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/topics/topic-archive/healthy-homes-bill-setting-new-standards-for-rental-homes
- 3. Henry Cooke. 2017. “Government Passes Healthy Homes Bill, Requiring All Rentals to Be Warm and Dry.” Stuff. December 1, 2017. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/99391162/government-passes-healthy-homes-bill-requiring-all-rentals-to-be-warm-and-dry
- 4. “Healthy homes standards” n.d. Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga - Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. https://www.hud.govt.nz/our-work/healthy-homes-standards/
- 5. Henry Cooke. 2017. “Government Passes Healthy Homes Bill, Requiring All Rentals to Be Warm and Dry.” Stuff. December 1, 2017. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/99391162/government-passes-healthy-homes-bill-requiring-all-rentals-to-be-warm-and-dry
- 6. “Healthy Homes Guarantee Act monitoring” NZ Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. 2021. https://www.hud.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Documents/Healthy-homes-topline-report-2021-report-updated-05.04.22.pdf
- 7. Adam Pearse. “Kennisgeving voor omleiding.” NZ Herald. November 2022. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/politics/te-pati-maori-and-greens-denounce-healthy-homes-extension-for-kainga-ora-and-landlords/3NQDG3QNMZAN7ELH4APRANJ4SU/