Research shows that a warm, dry home can have enormous benefits for tenants and their landlords.
The healthy homes standards will raise the standard of rental properties between now and July 2024. While some insulation regulations have already come into effect, it’s just one of five areas with new requirements – including ventilation and moisture. Landlords and tenants need to work together to meet these higher expectations.
Under the healthy homes ventilation standard(external link), every liveable space in a property needs an openable door or window to the outdoors, to let out moisture and get air circulating. But as tenant Maia* has found at her flat, just having an opening window or door doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.
The house she’s rented for three years has moisture problems in the winter. One issue is, until recently, the windows didn’t have secure latches – which made it harder for the tenants to ventilate the property safely. Maia also found that although the property is quite nice and relatively low-maintenance, trying to heat a cold, damp house can get pretty difficult.
“We bought a cheap heater that was meant to be economical to run, but it’s really not. Our power bill was ridiculous. It wasn’t doing much, and it was costing an arm and a leg.”Maia - Tenant
After talking to her landlord, Maia’s flat now has latches fixed to the windows. It’s a step in the right direction since under the new standards, all openings – like windows, doors and skylights – must be able to stay open in a fixed position. It’s then up to tenants to make sure they open the windows, doors, and skylights regularly.
Landlords and tenants also need to work together when it comes to keeping moisture out of the building. Under the healthy homes moisture ingress and drainage standard(external link), owners need to make sure all the gutters and downpipes are working properly, and if there’s an enclosed space under the house, they need to put down a ground moisture barrier (if it’s reasonably practicable to install one). Tenants should let landlords know when there’s a drainage problem, so it can be fixed quickly.
Apartments can present different ventilation challenges. Katie* is a landlord who has recently renovated a character apartment. Airflow is a problem in the property, so she paid particular attention to making sure moisture could be removed from the bathroom.
“We put in a whole new ventilation system,” she says. “And because the ceilings are really high, we’ve lifted all the doors (to a height of 2.4 metres) to create airflow through the whole apartment.” Katie has also re-waterproofed the entire bathroom, to make it as low-maintenance as possible for tenants, and avoid the risk of moisture damage.
Renovations like this aren’t cheap, and go above and beyond what’s required. But Katie is clear about the benefits from her investment.
*Names have been changed for privacy reasons
“I’ve been a long-term renter, and my landlord was so open to me living in the space as my own. They were really great. Just because you’re a tenant doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to live in a beautiful place. I also think that if you put money into your property, you’ll probably get a tenant who’s going to look after it.”Katie - Landlord