What makes your property a healthy home?

Property ownership is wonderful, but it comes with a level of responsibility. For starters, you have a responsibility to your tenants to ensure their home is safe, healthy and comfortable to live in. New laws came into place in July 2019 that introduced minimum standards for the heating, ventilation, insulation, moisture ingress, drainage and draught stopping of rental homes. But don’t fret – we’ve got you covered.

Here, we outline what you need to know to ensure that your property is complying with the Healthy Home Standards (HHS) and that your property is safe and suitable – both now and for the years to come.

The main living room of your house must have at least one fixed heater that’s capable of heating the room to 18˚C and maintaining this temperature throughout winter, which is no small task in some parts of the country! You may have something in there already, or an idea of what you’d like to install but it’s worth having your heating method checked out by an expert familiar with the new legislation; a lot of older heating systems are unlikely to meet the requirements. We can help to hook you up with someone who can help with this, if needed. And the government has also created an online heating assessment tool to help you understand what might be right for your place.

We all love a good through-breeze, and now in order to keep your home properly ventilated, there must be openable windows or doors in each habitable space. It’s important that they’re able to stay fixed in an open position, too, if needed. The general rule is that, in any room, the windows or doors should comprise at least 5% of the floor area of that space. Additionally, an appropriately sized extraction fan or rangehood has to be installed in bathrooms that have a bath or shower and kitchens with an indoor cooktop.

As part of the new legislation, ceiling and underfloor insulation is a requirement in all rental homes to keep the space warm and to stop heat escaping. For maximum effectiveness, the insulation needs to be in good condition with no damage, gaps or dampness – but other than that, the level of insulation you need in your property depends where it is in the country. Have a look at this guide to understand what grade insulation your house needs.

Moisture ingress and draining
If your rental property has an enclosed subfloor space, you are required to install an on-ground moisture barrier – like polythene sheeting over the ground under the house – to stop moisture rising into the home. Your property also needs to have efficient drainage for storm, surface and ground water that includes gutters, downpipes and drains.

Draught stopping
For general comfort, if your property has any gaps or holes in the walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors that are causing unreasonable draughts, they should be blocked; now that’s part of the standards. Included in this, unless you and your tenant come to another agreement, you’ll have to block the fireplace or chimney of an open fireplace. If your tenant wants to use the fireplace, you’re still required to block any gaps that are unnecessary to the safe operation of the fireplace. In general, it’s best to get an agreement in writing with your tenant about the use of a fireplace to ensure you’re adhering to draught guidelines. We can, of course, help you with this process.

The HHS should be a central guide to ensuring your property is a pleasant place to live for your tenants. We also think these requirements are ultimately good practice for the long-term care and condition of your property. Water ingress and dampness can have a negative impact on the value of a home, so they’re important steps to take to protect your investment.

If you’re after more detailed guidelines, have a look at the official legislation details. And for any specific questions, get in touch with us – we can advise or will be able to put you in touch with one of our experts.