We have very high standards for how our properties are maintained, to ensure our tenants can be safe, warm and healthy in our homes.
With a portfolio of around 64,000 houses around New Zealand, keeping them all well-maintained is a huge and complex task. Our maintenance team works with our tenants, contractors and community stakeholders, such as Ministry of Health, to ensure that our properties are fit for purpose and able to be run efficiently.
As well as providing a suite of responsive, routine, repairs between tenancies and planned maintenance programmes, we ensure tenants are well-informed about how they can maintain their homes to keep them warm, well-ventilated and as dry as possible.
Responsive maintenance includes repairs or other work to remedy a failure, or imminent failure, of a part or system on the property. Responsive maintenance is not primarily done to enhance the condition or amenity level of a property – these enhancements, for the most part, take place as part of our planned maintenance programme. Responsive Maintenance is work that is carried out to meet the requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act, to protect the property or to reinstate an essential amenity on the property.
We have a range of different levels of responsive maintenance depending on what work is required, each with their own target turnaround time:
|Type of maintenance||Target response time|
|Urgent health and safety maintenance responses||4 hours|
|Urgent responsive maintenance (not health and safety-related)||48 hours|
|General responsive maintenance (non-urgent maintenance)||10 days|
|Responsive scope (larger defects or follow on work after a temporary repair has been done)||30 days|
Housing New Zealand carries out both an annual tenancy inspection and an annual health and safety visit. These inspections apply to all Housing New Zealand rental properties including Home Lease Programme (HLP). Any defects or issues with the property are reported by the Tenancy Manager, contractor or tenant and lined up for responsive maintenance as required.
Annual tenancy inspections
Tenancy inspections look at the way the tenant is taking care of the house and note any tenancy agreement breaches. These inspections are an integral part of managing property and tenancy issues as well as building stronger, sustainable relationships with our tenants.
Health and safety visits
The health and safety inspections look at key parts of the property to ensure that they are functioning properly and are safe for tenants to occupy. These inspections also cover an extra check of smoke detectors to make sure that they are in the right place and working properly. It is Housing New Zealand policy to undertake smoke detector checks every six months.
Routine maintenance is necessary to ensure that Housing New Zealand homes are maintained on a regular basis in order to extend their useful life, and to ensure we make effective use of resources to keep our houses in good condition.
Routine maintenance includes items which we can predict and plan for in both the short and the long term. The frequency of this sort of maintenance depends on what work may be required. Examples of these routine tasks may include things like:
- Lawn mowing in multi-unit communal areas
- Complex communal area cleaning
- Rubbish removal
- Annual servicing of heat pumps, log burners, chimneys, septic tanks, and moss-proofing of roofs
The majority of routine maintenance work is carried out by contractors to Housing New Zealand.
Repairs between tenancies
We take our responsibility to provide warm, dry homes very seriously, and invest heavily in upgrades between tenancies to fix up properties to a high standard. We take pride in the great condition our homes are in when we let them to tenants.
Tenancy managers visit a property before tenants move in and when they move out to inspect for damage. Properties will generally require some work to bring them back to a lettable standard.
Housing New Zealand also has reviewed all its stock for earthquake proneness, and will not let out a house that is earthquake prone.
There are some standard maintenance and repairs needed to bring the interior and exterior up to a lettable standard before a tenant moves in – these include an assessment of the house to ensure it does not have any outstanding maintenance or repairs, that it is insulated as much as practicable and that it has adequate heating, curtains and carpet and fire alarms and driveway safety.
Sometimes “lettable standard” is defined by who will live there – a family with children may require better fencing and/or driveway work; for a person with a disability, modifications may be required such as widened doorways, level showers and other fittings.
Planned maintenance programmes
Every year, Housing New Zealand carries out a suite of specific, targeted planned maintenance programmes in order to upgrade the condition and quality of our properties. We have many work packages under our Planned Maintenance, such as:
- Driveway Safety Programme
- Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme
- Warm and Dry Programme
- Exterior paint Programme
- Boundary fencing Programme; and
- Roof replacement Programme
Driveway Safety Programme
A child is put in hospital every two weeks from injuries received by a vehicle in a private driveway, and a further four to five children die each year from those injuries. Most children injured in driveway incidents are toddlers, aged about two, and their injuries are often severe.
Most of these injuries come from children being run over by relatives.
We care about the safety of our tenants and want to do what we can to prevent young children being run over in our home’s driveways, so in 2013 we established our Driveway Safety Programme. The programme focuses on separating child play areas from driveways in all our properties. We have already made driveway safety improvements to over 13,000 properties around the country.
Depending on the type of property, we will install:
- Fencing and self-closing gates with child-resistant latches to separate driveways from children’s play areas
- Speed humps, speed restriction signs and convex mirrors at our complexes.
Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme
Rheumatic fever is a serious but preventable condition. In New Zealand, Maori and Pacific children are most vulnerable, and there is a strong link between housing conditions and the disease.
Housing New Zealand’s Rheumatic Fever Prevention Programme focuses on reducing the risk for vulnerable children in our homes. When a family is assessed by Ministry of Health as being at risk, we carry out housing-related interventions to improve the quality of their home and to keep it warm and dry. These ‘interventions’ may involve installing mechanical ventilation in the kitchen or bathroom; fitting or replacing carpets, drapes and insulation; or installing new heating sources.
Warm and Dry Programme
The Warm and Dry programme is tasked with upgrading all Housing New Zealand properties to ensure the home is as dry and warm as it can possibly be for winter. The programme initially targeted properties where we had vulnerable tenants with significant health issues; and is now in progress to address all properties across the country starting with Housing New Zealand’s older properties.
The Warm and Dry programme ensures that all properties have thermally backed curtains, appropriate heating, mechanical ventilation in the kitchen and bathrooms and carpets to replace bare flooring. We take a holistic approach to all aspects of a house that need attention. For example, instead of just fitting thermal drapes, we will ensure any draughty window joinery is repaired.
With an ageing housing portfolio in some areas, we are aware of the need to adopt a structured and well co-ordinated approach focusing on the houses requiring the most work first.