Healthy homes standards assessments and making a plan30 Sep 2020

Did you know that if you have not had your rental property assessed for its current level of compliance with the healthy homes standards and it becomes vacant, you will not be able to re-tenant the property until you do? That will be the case from 1 December 2020.

Meet Bob

Let’s look at a likely scenario with our hypothetical landlord, Bob. In November, a tenant gives Bob notice to vacate his property on 12 December 2020. Bob, who lives two hours away, does not know the property’s current level of compliance with the healthy homes standards. Bob needs to do the following:

  • Establish the required heating capacity for the main living room using either the Heating Assessment Tool at tenancy. or the formula contained in schedule 2 of the RTA (HHS) Regulations 2019.

  • Complete the six pages dedicated to Insulation on the compliance standard details. This is easy for Bob as he upgraded the insulation in July 2018. Otherwise he would have needed a professional assessment.

  • Bob needs to know what extraction fans are installed and ensure they are in good working order and ducted outside. If they were installed after 1 July 2019, he needs to know the diameter or exhaust capacity.

  • He must inspect gutters and downpipes to ensure they efficiently drain storm, surface and ground water to an appropriate outfall.
    He needs to know if his property requires a ground moisture barrier, and if it has one installed or not. Bob has not been under the house for a long time.

  • Bob also needs to understand how to meet the requirements in the draught stopping standard, and he thinks this standard should be met as soon as possible.

Bob decides that he does not have the appropriate skills to perform these checks himself, in particular, to determine the heating capacity using the assessment tool as measuring rooms is required. He decides to employ a professional, but there is a delay in getting an appropriately qualified tradesperson to inspect the property due to the demands on the industry. A date of 17 December is given and the report will be provided within three business days. On 21 December, when the report is received, the property can be rented and the tenancy agreement prepared with the required compliance statements. Unfortunately, it is now close to Christmas and tenants are not moving. The property remains vacant until mid-January. Bob loses five weeks rent. Don’t be like Bob.

Bob now has several applications and has selected his preferred tenant. When preparing the tenancy agreement and completing the healthy homes compliance statement, Bob commits to meeting all the standards by 1 July 2021. His prospective tenants are happy with that compliance date and they agree to rent his property. Bob now has his property rented by great tenants and a plan to meet
his obligations under the healthy homes legislation. Be like Bob.

Make a plan

On the healthy homes standards current level of compliance statement, which is required for all new and renewed tenancies from 1 December 2020, landlords must not only complete the 13 page document that discloses their current level of compliance for each of the five healthy homes standards, they must also provide a date that they will meet all the standards by.

So, it is not enough for a landlord to declare the current level of compliance, they need a plan and that plan must include a date that they will comply by.

The best tenants may not sign a tenancy agreement with a compliance date of 1 July 2024. This is the final date to comply with the healthy homes standards and may be the default date used by some landlords if they don’t have a good plan in place. The best tenants want to live in a warm, dry, healthy home in the shortest possible time frame. Once your property is assessed, a plan is needed. Remember that from 1 July 2021, for any new or renewed tenancy agreement landlords have only 90 days to meet all the healthy homes standards.

Harcourts Property Managers are working hard to avoid situations and vacancy periods like those experienced by Bob, but we know that with the current wait times to get an assessment done, scenarios like Bob’s are going to be commonplace. Speak to your Harcourts property manager for advice, get your property assessed and make your plan!

This article is featured in Harcourts' Property Management Focus Issue 9, 2020.