Landlords must provide one or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living room. The heater(s) must be acceptable types, and must meet the minimum heating capacity required for your main living room. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum indoor temperature of 18˚C. By installing heating that can reach this temperature on the coldest days of the year, tenants will be able to keep warm all year round.

To find out when your property needs to comply with the healthy homes standards use the compliance timeframes decision tool.

Compliance timeframes decision tool

Landlords that don't meet their obligations under the healthy homes standards are in breach of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986. They may be liable for exemplary damages of up to $7,200.

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What is the heating standard?

There must be 1 or more fixed heaters that can directly heat the main living room.

The main living room is the largest room that is used for general, everyday living – for example a lounge, family room or dining room.

Heater(s) must be fixed (not portable), and must be at least 1.5 kW in heating capacity and meet the minimum heating capacity needed for the main living room. There are several options to calculate the heating capacity required for the main living room.

Options include:

  • Using the heating assessment tool
  • Using the formula in the regulations
  • Using a professional to assess the required heating capacity to meet the heating standard

Find out more about the options to calculate the required heating capacity

Acceptable heaters

Heater(s) must not be an open fire or an unflued combustion heater, e.g. portable LPG bottle heaters. If you use a heat pump or an electric heater as part of your solution to meet the healthy homes heating standard, it must have a thermostat. You can’t use an electric heater (except a heat pump) if the required heating capacity for the main living room is over 2.4 kW, unless you’re ‘topping up’ existing qualifying heating that was installed before 1 July 2019.

In most cases, the acceptable types of heater(s) will be a larger fixed heating device like a heat pump, wood burner, pellet burner or flued gas heater. In some cases, e.g. small apartments, a smaller fixed electric heater may be enough.

Some properties (mainly in Rotorua) can meet the heating standard by using geothermal heating, if the geothermal heating meets certain requirements.

Geothermal heating requirements

Visit the Gen Less website for more information about different heating options:

Heat & cool efficiently(external link) — Gen Less

Download the heating guidance document for more details on how to meet the heating standards:

Healthy homes standards heating guidance [PDF, 1.9 MB]

If you have existing heating

You don't need to add more heating if you have 1 or more existing heaters that:

  • were installed before 1 July 2019
  • each have a heating capacity greater than 2.4kW
  • meet the requirements in the standards (for example, not an open fire or an unflued combustion heater)
  • are not electric heaters (heat pumps are acceptable) if the required heating capacity for the main living room is over 2.4 kW, and
  • have a total heating capacity that's at least 80% of what you need to meet the required heating capacity.

If the existing heater is a woodburner, it will likely have a label stating the heat output. Landlords can also check the manufacturer's information or council records for information on the heat output of their woodburner.

Central heating will meet the heating standard as long as:

  • it provides heat directly to the main living room (e.g. through vents, ducts or radiators); and
  • it meets the required heating capacity.

Top up existing heating

If your existing heating doesn't meet the required heating capacity and you're adding a new heater or heaters to the main living room, each heater must meet the requirements in the healthy homes standards, with one exception. You can add a smaller fixed electric heater to ‘top up’ your heating if you meet all these conditions:

  • you installed your existing heating before 1 July 2019
  • the required heating capacity is more than 2.4 kW
  • the ‘top up’ you need is 2.4 kW or less.

Example

For example, if you have a heat pump with a heating capacity of 3.6 kW that was installed before 1 July, 2019, but you need a total heating capacity of 6.0 kW, you can add a fixed 2.4 kW electric heater with a thermostat to meet the standard.

Once the heat pump needs to be replaced due to wear and tear, you will need to install a qualifying heater/s that meets the required heating capacity under the healthy homes heating standard.

If you have geothermal heating

Some properties (mainly in Rotorua) can meet the heating standard by using geothermal heating, if the heater:

  • is powered by geothermal energy;
  • provides direct heat to the main living room; and
  • doesn’t have a stated heating capacity and for which it is not possible to state its heating capacity.

Extended compliance timeframe for some properties

Landlords who use the new heating formula may get extra time to comply with the heating standard.

Find out if your property meets the criteria for the new heating formula

If all of the following applies, the compliance date for the heating standard is 12 February, 2023:

  • It is a private tenancy (i.e not a boarding house, a Kāinga Ora or registered Community Housing tenancy).
  • The new heating formula is applicable to the rental property, and the landlord chooses to use it to calculate the minimum required heating capacity.
  • The end of the 90 day compliance timeframe is on or after 12 May 2022 and before 12 February, 2023.

Landlords of these properties must continue to comply with the other healthy homes standards within 90 days of any new, or renewed, tenancy starting.

Use the compliance timeframes decision tool to find out when your property needs to comply

If a landlord has already completed the healthy homes compliance statement with the tenancy agreement and is choosing to now use the new heating formula, they will need to provide updated information to tenants.

Find out more about updating the heating standard information in the compliance statement.

Exemptions to the heating standard

There are specific exemptions to the heating standard. The exemptions are:

  • where it is not reasonably practicable to install one or more qualifying heating devices.
  • where the rental property is a certified passive building.

It is not reasonably practicable to install heating devices if a professional installer can’t access the area without:

  • carrying out substantial building work, or
  • causing substantial damage to the property, or
  • creating greater risks to a person’s health and safety than is normally acceptable, or
  • it is otherwise not reasonably practicable for a professional installer to carry out the work.

These heating specific exemptions are in addition to the general exemptions.

One of the general exemptions has specific requirements that relate to the heating standard.

General exemptions to the healthy homes standards

Partial exemption for landlords who do not own the entire building

If a rental property is part of a building and the landlord does not own the entire building (for example, if a landlord owns an apartment). The landlord will be partially exempt from complying with parts of the standards if their ability to comply with the healthy homes standards is not possible because:

  • they need to install or provide something in a part of the building where the landlord is not the sole owner, or
  • they need access to a part of the building that they are not the sole owner.

Landlords must still take all reasonable steps to ensure the rental property or building complies with the healthy homes standards to the greatest extent reasonably practicable.

For the heating standard this means if the required heating capacity is over 2.4 kW, a landlord must install at least one qualifying heater that has a heating capacity of at least 2 kW. A fixed electric heater with a thermostat is an acceptable heater for this situation.


Further information

The heating standard is one of five healthy homes standards. Find out about the other healthy homes standards:

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