Housing quality and minimum housing standards

8 months ago

Recommended option: Prescribe minimum housing standards for rental properties and enhance repair and maintenance provisions

Minimum housing standards for rental properties would be prescribed to ensure properties are safe, secure and functional. Proposed minimum housing standards clarify existing obligations for rental properties to be clean, in good repair and fit to live in, except those for privacy and lighting.

Recommended standards include:

  • Weatherproof and structurally sound. A rental property is not:
    • weatherproof if ceilings or windows do not prevent water coming in due to rain
    • structurally sound if the walls, ceiling, roof, decks or stairs are likely to collapse because of rot or a defect or the floors, ceilings, walls or other supporting structures are affected by significant dampness
  • Plumbing and drainage. A rental property must:
    • have adequate plumbing and drainage for the number of tenants or residents occupying the property under a tenancy or rooming accommodation agreement
    • be connected to a water supply service or infrastructure that can supply hot and cold water for drinking, bathing and cleaning
    • have each toilet functioning as designed, including flushing and refilling, and be connected to a sewer, septic system or other council approved waste disposal system.
  • Security:
    • A tenant must be able to secure the property and rely on the functionality and effectiveness of security measures in the property.
    • Rental properties must have functioning latches for external windows and doors to secure against entry to the property.
    • For rooming accommodation tenancies, there must be a functioning lock or latch fitted to all entries to a resident’s room.
  • Fixtures and fittings
    • Fixtures and fittings (e.g. taps and appliances) provided in the rental property must not present a health or safety risk to a person with ordinary use.
    • A tenant must be able to rely on the functionality and effectiveness of the fixtures and fittings in the rental property.
  • Pests, vermin and infestation
    • Rental properties must be free of plant and animal pests, noxious plants, fungus growths or other infestations of micro-organisms to maintain the health and safety of tenants.
  • Adequate ventilation
    • Rental properties must have adequate ventilation in each room through opening windows, vents or exhaust fans to support health and safety.
    • Ventilation is inadequate if it contributes to the growth of mould and mildew in the room.
  • Lighting
    • Rental properties must have adequate natural or artificial light in each room, other than a room intended to be used only for storage or as a garage.
  • Privacy
    • The toilet and bathroom facilities in rental properties must provide the user with privacy.
    • Window coverings or treatments are provided in rooms where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  • Cooking and food preparation facilities
    • Rental properties should allow tenants to cook, prepare and store food, including a functioning cooktop and sink, food preparation areas and storage areas other than refrigerated storage areas.

Enhance existing repair and maintenance provisions to ensure property owners and managers comply with proposed minimum housing standards and repair and maintenance obligations, including:

  • Tribunal repair orders can be sought by tenants and interested parties and enforced by the Residential Tenancies Authority, including that a rental property cannot be rented or reduce rent until repairs/maintenance are completed
  • Allow tenants seven days to complete and return the entry condition report, increase the amount a tenant can authorise for emergency repairs up to the equivalent of four (currently two) weeks’ rent, and ensure tenants have contact details for the owner or a nominated representative to arrange repairs and maintenance
  • Allow property managers to authorise up to the equivalent of four weeks rent for emergency repairs if the owner is unavailable.

Property owners already meeting their repair and maintenance obligations will not be impacted by this reform. For the small proportion of affected property owners, meeting these obligations could help to improve or maintain the value of their investment and stop issues from becoming bigger and more costly problems.

Property owners and managers will also benefit from clearer rights and obligations, which could help to reduce disputes or to resolve disputes faster and simplify property management.

Consultation has concluded