Mould & Dampness and the healthy homes standards
There are five healthy homes standards that became law on 1 July 2019, with key compliance dates over the following four years. All rental homes need to comply with each of the standards by 1 July 2024.
These standards will play a significant role in improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families. Warmer and drier homes are also less likely to have issues with mould or mildew damage, which better protects a landlord’s investment.
Despite the healthy homes standards not yet being in effect for all properties, clause 15 of the Housing Improvement Regulations 1947 states that every house shall be free from dampness. Therefore, landlords must still address any complaints of mould or dampness, regardless of the healthy homes compliance date for their property. It is important that rental homes are free from mould and dampness before being rented out.
With the colder winter months approaching, it is important for landlords, property managers and tenants to be watchful for signs of mould and dampness. Failure to address complaints by tenants could result in the tenant being awarded exemplary damages by the Tribunal and damage to the property.
There have been cases at Tribunal whereby a tenant was unable to use a room or area of the property due to mould or dampness, and rent was abated accordingly. The Tribunal ordered the landlord to refund a portion of the rent to the tenant in addition to exemplary damages being awarded and payable to the tenant.
Tenants have a responsibility to keep the house well-aired and to remove any mould straight away, however dampness is often from external sources so landlords should check that gutters are clear, and that downpipes and drainage are working.
Harcourts property managers provide information to tenants about their responsibilities and how to prevent mould. During routine inspections, property managers are on the lookout for any signs of mould and activities taking place indoors that could be a source of mould.