With recent updates to laws like tenancy laws update, there were a lot of changes required for rental properties. One of these were stopping draughts. Another is having a suitable source of heat. Whether or not your property is a rental, open fireplaces allow heat to escape. And some of these no longer meet the latest standards. Is your fireplace compliant? If not, you may have trouble renting or selling your property should the need arise.

Basic fireplace regulations

Even if you have a non-compliant fireplace, you likely don’t have to worry about being fined or punished. Where these rules come into play is when you try to rent or sell your property. However, this can be an unwelcome surprise if you try to sell your house and learn that you have to update or remove the fireplace first.

The safest way to know that your wood burner or fireplace is compliant is to use one from the government’s Authorised wood burners list. These devices meet the national standards. However, they may not meet further region-specific standards.

Region-specific standards

While there are national standards for fireplaces, it’s also important to check if your fireplace is compliant for your specific region too. Depending on where in NZ you live, you may have additional restrictions for your fireplace. Within the Auckland region, for instance, indoor open fireplaces are non-compliant. The same goes for burners manufactured prior to 2005. This is because of air pollution standards that were brought into law in 2018.

Southland and Invercargill standards

In Invercargill City, there are additional restrictions as well. Since 2014, all new burners must meet the government’s National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NES). This means all new burners inside the Invercargill airshed (very similar to the city limits) must be NES-approved. Open fires and non-approved boilers and burners are in the process of being phased out in Southland too, with the entire phase-out planning to be completed by 2029.

What do I do if my fireplace is non-compliant?

If your fireplace is non-compliant in an owner-occupied home, there is nothing you need to do at this time if you’re happy with the performance of the fireplace. Lot sizes above 2ha (20,000m2) are also excluded.

But if you are planning to rent out or sell the property, you’ll need to have your fireplace renovated or removed. There are pros and cons to upgrading and removing the fireplace.

Compliant fireplaces vs heat pumps

On the one hand, compliant fireplaces are an efficient source of heat. In addition, private rental properties in the updated heating standard must have a fixed heater that can directly heat the main living room by July 2024. However, they have specified that this heater cannot be an open fire or unflued combustion heater.

On the other hand, fireplaces are starting to be seen as a less attractive option than heat pumps. For some, they are seen as more efficient while taking up less space. However, they might be seen as a worse choice when there is a source of firewood available due to costs.

The right option for you depends on your budget and long-term goals for the property.

Who removes fireplaces?

If you need someone to update or remove a fireplace, most property maintenance companies can help. If you’re in the Southland area, you can get in touch with our team. We’re experienced in renovations from single rooms to whole homes. Give us a call or contact us today to get a free quote.