The topic Healthy Homes comes with lots of questions from landlords as to when and how to comply with the new standards. We like to regularly check in with Samantha Arnold, General Manager of Property Management and Megan O'Callaghan, our In-House Legal Advisor to keep our customers informed about upcoming developments. Remember you can always contact your property manager with additional questions.
What are the key deadlines that landlords should be aware of within the next six months?
Samantha: The only thing that owners need to note in the next few months is that from 1 December 2020, they need to provide tenants with a statement as to which standards have been met so far on their property so this needs to be completed and on file as a priority.
How do they get the statement? Can they do it themselves?
Megan: Yes, this is something that they can do themselves, but as a company we don’t recommend it because the chance for error is too great. Instead, we recommend booking in a contractor who is familiar with the precise details of the legislation. There are complicated formulas involved that they can calculate with more accuracy. Your property manager should be in touch to schedule the assessment soon if they have not already. There is a small fee from $100 through to $300 + GST involved for landlords.
Samantha: Remember, tenants must be given 24 hours written notice that someone will be entering their property for something like this assessment.
What other paperwork needs to be on file in addition to this assessment certificate?
Samantha: You need to keep records showing your compliance with the standards. For instance, you need to have the manufacturer warranty for your heat pump or reports from tradespeople for any other improvements. You can provide the originals (or make copies) to your property manager who will keep them on file for you.
What physical changes need to be made to comply with these deadlines?
Megan: For now, there is nothing that needs to be completed except the assessment and the statement.
How should landlords include tenants in the process while trying to be compliant?
Samantha: Communication is always key. Our property managers will give tenants ample notice and explain why the assessment is necessary.
Any advice, tips, tricks for landlords with multiple properties trying to be compliant?
Samantha: Our staff are very well trained in the ins-and-outs of Healthy Homes so you can rely on them with confidence through the process. One thing worth noting is that some banks are offering low-interest loans for Healthy Homes improvements and if you have multiple properties then this may be something to look into so there is less of a financial impact.
What are the penalties for not being compliant by the deadlines?
Megan: There is a potential fine of $4,000 (which will most likely increase to $7,200 shortly) for failure to make improvements by the deadline of between 1 July 2021 and 1 July 2024 as set by government that is relevant for your property. There is also a penalty of $500 for not providing, or for providing an incorrect statement of the current level of compliance of the property.
For landlords overseas, what should they know and what is required of them from their property managers?
Samantha: There is nothing they need to worry about as their Barfoot & Thompson property manager should already be onto it and in the process of getting it sorted.
Are there any common mistakes that people are making with regard to Healthy Homes?
Samantha: Yes, Healthy Homes standards are not DIY projects especially with regard to working out what heating will be sufficient. There are incredibly complicated formulas being applied to ensure that they will be powerful enough to warm spaces. If you can grasp this formula for calculating heating capacity for a living room go ahead and go it alone but otherwise, you need to call in a professional so you don’t waste time and money.
h = [t + v + (f × 40) ] ÷ 1000
Where the following applies:
h - Is the required heating capacity for the living room (kW)
t - Is the transmission heat loss of the living room (W) calculated by another formula
v - Is the ventilation heat loss of the living room (W) calculated by another formula.
f - Is the area of the floor of the living room (m2)
What should tenants know about the Healthy Home Standards?
Samantha: Barfoot & Thompson are firmly behind this initiative and support the idea of healthy warm homes for all tenants.
Any final thoughts?
Megan: These improvements will maximise capital gains and attract better tenants which is a win-win for landlords. Please don’t wait too long to get started. Remember there was a shortage of insulation that occurred around the last deadline. Prices will rise as demand increases.