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Property maintenance, the Budget and looming Healthy Homes deadline

By David Kneebone on 2021-06-14

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This month we have our eye on the looming second stage of the Healthy Homes deadlines on 1 July, after which all new or renewed tenancies must comply with the standards within 90 days of the tenancy starting.

As a refresher, I’ll give a basic overview of the areas you need to consider, which all contribute to making a warm and dry home.

The end of last month saw the announcement of the Government’s 2021 Budget. However, for the property industry, a lot of the big changes had already come at the end of March, with the $3.8b housing acceleration fund, bright line test and interest changes.

But the Budget does include $100m to support the implementation of changes to the Healthy Homes standards and Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, including $16m for proactive investigation and enforcement of the standards.

While the term ‘enforcement’ may sound concerning, the Government’s goal is to support tenants who don’t have the ability or resources to bring attention to non-compliance. Of course, Lodge clients don’t need to worry, because our team is here to help and make sure you are compliant.

My other focus for this month is on rental upkeep and maintenance. It’s important to know who is responsible for what to avoid any disagreements with your tenants or maintenance falling by the wayside.

Related to this, there are a few things to consider when updating or renovating your rental property. I’ll talk about why quality should be a key focus for any alterations.

 

Healthy Homes deadline

The Healthy Homes standards incorporate five aspects of a property, to ensure rental homes are warm and dry:

  1. Heating
    1. All rental properties must have one or more fixed heaters, directly heating the main living room and that meet a required heating capacity. Check out this heating assessment tool to see if your current heating is sufficient.
  2. Insulation
    1. Ceiling and underfloor insulation has been compulsory in all rental homes since 1 July 2019, so you should already be meeting this standard.
  3. Ventilation
    1. Rental properties must have at least one door or window that opens to the outside in all bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, lounges and kitchens, and they must be able to be fixed in the open position.
    2. All kitchens and bathrooms must have an extractor fan that ventilates externally.
  4. Moisture ingress and drainage
    1. Rental properties must have a drainage system for stormwater, surface water and ground water.
  5. Draught stopping
    1. All unreasonable gaps and holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors must be blocked if they cause noticeable draughts.

Prior to a tenancy starting or renewing, the team at Lodge are ensuring that all properties with new tenancies are compliant. After you make any changes around the property, we can also help with updating your statement of compliance, which has been compulsory since 1 December 2020.

 

What’s what with property maintenance

With rental maintenance, there are many facets to consider and it can be difficult to know who is responsible for what. While specific items vary property to property, overall a landlord’s responsibilities include:

  • Keeping the property in a reasonable state of cleanliness, which includes pruning trees, hedges and shrubs in the garden.
  • Maintaining the property in a reasonable state of repair so it is safe to live in.
  • Ensuring the smoke alarm requirements are met.
  • Complying with the Healthy Homes standards as above.
  • The roof, external cladding, fences, gutters and any other physical structure are a landlord’s responsibility.

Your tenants should keep the property clean and tidy, which usually includes mowing the lawns and weeding, as well as replacing smoke alarm batteries.

Property maintenance is important to include within your budget, so if you’re looking to calculate a ballpark figure, read our blog for details of three formulas you could use.

 

Going beyond maintenance

If your rental property could do with a spruce up, check out one of our other blogs, which outlines four renovation tips for making your property low maintenance. It covers choosing wall colours wisely, selecting durable flooring, opting for stain-resistant countertops and using wall-mounted features for easy cleaning.

My one key piece of advice with renovation is to do it right the first time with good workmanship and quality products. After all, you are investing in the upkeep of your own property. Bad painting jobs or wall patching show up instantly, and by doing things like painting over old wallpaper you’re only setting yourself up for more costs down the line.

 

See you next month,

David Kneebone

Director, Lodge City Rentals

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