Blocking open fireplaces and understanding definitions31 Jul 2020

The healthy homes draught stopping standard states that any unreasonable gaps or holes in walls, ceilings, windows, floors and doors that are not necessary must be blocked. So, what is meant by unreasonable?

It is a common sense definition. If you can feel air coming in or feel a draught from a gap or hole against the back of your hand, then it probably needs stopping. Remember, some gaps and holes are intentional and should not be blocked.

Does an open fireplace have to be blocked under the healthy homes standards?
If a rental home has an open fireplace, it must be closed off or the chimney blocked to prevent draughts in and out of the property through the fireplace.

Tenants can ask landlords, in writing, to make the fireplace available for use and the landlord can agree. If it is available for use, it must be in good working order and free of any gaps which could cause a draught that are not necessary for the safe and efficient operation of the open fireplace.

It is best practice to record any agreement in writing, with both tenant and landlord keeping a copy.

This does not exempt the landlord from meeting the heating requirements of the healthy homes standards and, in addition to an open fireplace, there must still be a fixed heating device in the living room that must be able to achieve a temperature of 18°C.

You can read the guidance on the draught stopping standard for tips and common causes of gaps, as well as the heating standard and other healthy homes standards, on the Tenancy Services website.

This article is featured in Harcourts' Property Management Focus Newsletter Issue 7, 2020.