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Private Rentals Must Provide Accurate Information To Heat Pump Installers

With 2021 already being past the halfway mark, the New Zealand rollout of the new Healthy Home Standards is nearing ever closer to its full implementation. A major phase of the Healthy Home Standard came into place on 21 July 2021, requiring rental properties to meet the heating standards of the Healthy Home Standard within 90 days of any new or renewed tenancies after this date.

To meet the Healthy Homes Standard, rental properties are required to have one or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living areas of a house. This room is defined as the largest room in the house that is used for general, everyday living such as a family, lounge or dining room. The heaters themselves cannot be portable and need to provide at least 1.5kw in heating capacity. They also need to maintain the minimum heating requirements of 18 degrees celsius year round. Based on the professional experience of Varcoe Heatpump installers - The most viable option is to install a heat pump in these areas.

While many landlords are well aware of their obligations, they need to proceed with caution in ensuring that bringing their rentals up to the Healthy Homes Standard is done correctly. The New Zealand Government has carefully outlined the criteria for the size of the heat pump that is required for homes, providing a range of calculators to help landlords and heat pump suppliers determine the best option. Unfortunately, many heat pump suppliers have not been sticking to the criteria, with landlords only finding out when it’s too late.

This scenario has led to a large amount of properties having heat pumps installed that are too small and don’t meet the requirements of the Healthy Home Standard. There usually isn’t malicious intent from the heat pump supplier, but rather it can be due to them not being given the correct information from the landlord. One such piece of information is that the home is intended to be used as a rental property, in which case they will need to use the calculator provided by the Government rather than their own.

A frustrating, and potentially expensive, part of this situation is that landlords often only find out when it’s too late. Once a property has been developed and is ready to be rented out, developers will bring in an assessor. This assessor's role is to determine whether or not the property has met the Healthy Home Standard. It is only at this point that they discover that the heat pump is too small… and sometimes the price to correct this is far more than just a replacement heat pump.

While upgrading the heat pump prior to renting a property out is an expensive chore, the costs really add up if it is only discovered later on. If landlords do not have a big enough heat pump to meet the Healthy Home Standards, they are recognised as not meeting their obligations and are in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. This may mean they find themselves in court in the future being liable for exemplary damages of up to $7,200.

There really are no winners in this situation. The landlord may have fully intended to meet their obligations under the new Healthy Home Standard and do right by their tenants, but due to miscommunication were left having to dig deep into their pockets. They may even feel that the heat pump supplier is at fault, even though the situation may have sprung only from miscommunication from both parties.

When looking to install a heat pump into a residential property, it is crucial that the use of the property is disclosed to the heat pump supplier. Many heat pump suppliers use their own methods of calculating the perfect heat pump, and depending on what features you’ve instructed you require will depend on the heat pump that is selected. The calculations used by these suppliers are perfectly viable to offer you a fit for purpose solution for your heating. However, the law is different between owner occupied houses and rental properties. Rental properties have to meet the criteria set by the government and therefore use the calculators provided by them. Failing to do so may mean you have a heat pump that may feel like it's doing its job, but will be found to be non-compliant when assed. Therefore, in order to avoid some hefty penalties, it is crucial that you disclose to your heat pump supplier whether or not they are installing a system for a rental property.

Varcoe Air Conditioning and Heat Pumps are industry leading suppliers of HVAC solutions. We take careful care in finding out all of your requirements, including whether or not your property is intended as a rental property, in order to supply and install the best heat pump for your needs. To find out more about the range of heat pumps, and how we can bring your rental property up to Healthy Home Standards, get in contact with the team at Varcoe today!

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