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Rental WOF in New Zealand; What Are the Landlord Responsibilities?

It looks increasingly likely that NZ will implement a rental WOF. For many landlords, if you’re compliant with the healthy homes standards, this won’t affect you much. However, you need to understand who is responsible for what.

Why Does NZ Need a Rental WOF?

The WOF will be designed to ensure tenants have a home that is healthy and fit to live in. NZ’s building stock is often old, built without insulation or an economical, clean form of heating. The leaky homes crisis worsened the situation, and while legislation has tried to patch up the problems, there needs to be an overall solution.

Cold, damp homes are linked to a range of health problems, particularly in vulnerable children and elderly. Breathing problems, asthma, respiratory tract infections are all likely, as well as depression, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, allergies (to mould), and nausea and diarrhoea. And, this is all avoidable with a warm, dry home.

The WOF also gives landlords a tool to manage their properties, rather than the regulations and compliance on an ad-hoc basis. The regulations for the NZ rental WOF will cover a range of different Acts:

  • Residential Tenancies Act 1986
  • Health & Safety at Work Act 2015
  • Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2016
  • Building Act 2004
  • Resource Management Act 1991
  • Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010
  • Fire Services Act 1975
  • Hazardous Substances & New Organisms Act 1996

Currently, the legislation is a patchwork of regulations. It needs to be pulled together under one roof. Tenants need to know their rights, but also where they must take responsibility themselves. A housing WOF makes that clear.

What Will a Rental WOF Include?

While we don’t know exactly what a rental WOF will look like, the healthy homes legislation gives us some ideas about what will be included.

There are five key areas: Heating, ventilation, insulation, energy, and safety. Things like smoke alarms, for instance, will fall under ‘safety’.

One of the big problems in NZ homes is dampness. This needs to be resolved because it leads to mould, which can cause illness. The way to resolve it is through heating, insulating, and ventilating; there is a raft of simple, effective things landlords must do.

First, there must be no water coming into the home:

  • Ensure the home is watertight, with no ingress
  • Must be efficient drainage for removal of storm/ surface/ ground water
  • A moisture barrier between the floor inside and the sub-floor space

However, even the most water-tight home will have moisture inside. Cooking, washing, and breathing all create internal dampness. So, as well as stopping water coming in, there must be ways for internal moisture to be removed:

  • At least one window, door or skylight which opens to outside and can be fixed open in all rooms of a home
  • Kitchens and bathrooms must have extractor fans/ rangehoods

Once water can’t get inside the home, and sources of dampness inside are eliminated or resolved, the house is drier, warmer, and healthier for the occupants.

Other likely general standards include:

  • Insulation in ceilings and floors
  • Fixed heating so the main living area can reach 18oC safely 
  • No unreasonable gaps in walls, ceiling, windows, floors and doors

What happens if a house develops mould?

If your rental property develops mould, there are two scenarios. One, is that as a landlord you have complied with all standards and have ensured adequate ventilation, heating, and insulation. However, the tenants have not ventilated the home correctly and mould has developed as a result. This can often be resolved by showing them how to air the home and giving them instructions how to clean the mould.

However, if the home does not have the minimum measures as above and there is moisture ingress or poor ventilation, you may be liable for fixing the issues and removing the mould.

How do you remove mould from your rental?

You first need to comply with the healthy home standards (which could become the rental WOF). Ensure there’s no water ingress, there’s good ventilation, a source of heat, and insulation. Once those basics are resolved, the house should be dry. Until then, there is no point cleaning the mould, as it will return again, and again, and again.

To remove the mould, if the problem is anything worse than a minor issue, it’s best to get the professionals in. They ensure the mould isn’t just cleaned, but that the plant is killed, and removed completely. This is the only way to ensure it doesn’t return. Mould spores are airborne, and unless you remove it completely, it will haunt you forever.

For a thorough mould removal job, contact us at TechClean. We can assess the damage and advise on the level of remediation needed. We make sure we manage the process from start to finish, you can relax knowing that the problem is completely resolved. Call us on 0800 101 234 for a quote. Don’t waste your time trying to remove mould—let the experts fix it for you.

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