Healthy Homes Standards and HomeFit

03 October 2019

A few months have passed since the Government introduced the Healthy Homes Standards for rental properties. Approximately 660,000 rental properties have to meet the standards; many won’t without significant investment by their owners if data collected by the HomeFit app is any indication.

HomeFit is a tool developed by the not-for-profit New Zealand Green Building Council in consultation with the Government’s housing regulatory agencies and the housing sector in general. It launched nine months ago, receiving widespread publicity and an initial flurry of online assessments. Since winter kicked off, the online tool has been getting more than 1,000 new users a week.

The online check has been used by many landlords to verify if their properties meet the Healthy Homes Standards. The tool has been completed by 17,800 homeowners, 4800 renters, and 3,400 landlords. Of those landlords, 1,200 said they used the tool to see if their home met legal requirements.

Most will be disappointed. But there’s plenty of time to make the required changes. The standards don’t come in for new tenancy agreements until July 2021, and for all rentals by July 2024. Wellington landlord Ra Dejardine made sure his two rental properties met the HomeFit standard by installing heating and draught proofing among other improvements.

Many of New Zealand’s cold and damp homes are owner-occupied. The NZGBC and many health experts believe owner-occupiers also deserve warm healthy homes. Owners can also check if the homes are likely to get mouldy and have adequate insulation.

HomeFit takes an effects-based approach, says NZGBC Market Transformation Director Sam Archer. The Healthy Homes Standards only require ceiling and underfloor insulation where it is practical to implement, whereas a house won’t be deemed HomeFit without these important features.

HomeFit also measures the impact of condensation and moisture in the home by asking if there is visible mould or whether it smells damp. These symptoms could reflect the quality of the installed insulation, ventilation and heating systems, but could also be related to occupant behaviour, such as opening windows and using moisture extraction systems.

“Both standards are equally as relevant to rental or owner-occupied properties,” Sam says. “HomeFit is setting a path for the development of the Healthy Homes Standards for rental properties, and we are advocating a similar standard be established for homes that are put up for sale.”

Similar point-of-sale standards are already in place in most of the European Union countries, and evidence shows the higher the rating the more people are willing to pay. 

A HomeFit assessment is a professional service that can independently verify if your rental home meets or exceeds the requirements of the Government Healthy Homes Standard.

You can find a HomeFit Certification assessor here www.homefit.org.nz