How do I keep my property warm and dry in winter?

As a landlord, ensuring that your property is dry and well-heated is a must. By law, you’re only required to provide a certain amount of heating to keep tenants comfortable; however, taking the following few additional steps can save you a lot of maintenance in the long run.

Heating the house

Under the Housing Improvement Regulations of 1947, landlords are not required to heat every room in a property, but you do have to provide some form of heating in any living room. In cases where the local council does not have a list of approved forms of heating, the Tenancy Tribunal may consider this requirement met if you simply provide an inexpensive plug-in heater.

Because Auckland Council does not maintain a list, equipping a living room with plenty of power points for plugging in heaters may be good enough. But for more thorough heating, it’s worth paying a bit more upfront for a fixed heater with lower running costs and better heat output than a plug-in one. This could be a modern wood or wood pellet burner, an energy efficient heat pump, or a four star-qualified flued gas heater. Avoid unflued gas heaters, both portable and with pipes fixed to the wall because these can release moisture and toxic fumes. I also recommend avoiding open fires, which are draughty and inefficient.  

Stopping draughts

The World Health Organisation recommends that homes be heated to at least 18 degrees. Draughts make this much harder to achieve. Block draughts by: 

  • Tightening hinges, catches and latches. If they don’t fit snugly in their frames, get them repaired by a qualified builder or aluminium specialist.
  • Adding weather stripping to seal gaps around doors and windows. Check which types to use at your hardware store.
  • Sealing doors and window trims with clear or paintable sealant.
  • Fitting draft excluders to gaps under doors. Use brush strip draft excluders for internal doors, and spring-loaded automatic ones for external doors.
  • Replacing any damaged rubber seals around aluminium joinery. 

Removing steam

Inadequate ventilation can contribute to dampness and mould growth, which is why it’s essential to get it right.  When houses are airtight, they become easier to heat, but good ventilation is still needed to prevent the air inside the house from getting stale and damp. In addition to keeping the home at or above 18 degrees, you should be aiming to keep the indoor humidity below 65%.

Extractor fans are a great way to remove steam and reduce humidity. They should be fitted in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, and should vent to the outside, not into the ceiling space. Make sure that your extractor fans are properly sized and located for the room. Undersized fans or ducting will be both noisy and ineffective. Ask your supplier for advice.

Remind tenants to turn the extractor fan on before having a shower or bath, and to shut the bathroom door. Leaving the bathroom window slightly open allows air to flow in and will improve the fan’s effectiveness. After showering or bathing, ask them to leave the fan on, the window open and the door closed for a few more minutes. Another way to beat a damp bathroom is to install a shower dome, which prevents steam and water from escaping the shower booth.


From 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes where it is reasonably practicable to install. If you property doesn’t yet meet the requirements we recommend that you don’t delay. As the deadline approaches, demand is likely to exceed capacity and the cost of installation is likely to increase.

Ratepayers who want to improve their heating and/or insulation can borrow up to $5,000 (including GST) through Auckland Council’s Retrofit Your Home program.

The financial assistance is repaid with interest over nine years, through a targeted rate on your property rates. You or your tenant can also borrow a free HEAT kit through Auckland Libraries. HEAT kits contain tools to measure your property’s energy use and find ways to improve it.