The first part of the Government’s introduction of new standards for rental properties kicks in tomorrow. These new standards will require to have a heater that can heat a living room to 18 degrees, ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms, and ceiling and underfloor insulation. The insulation requirement comes into effect tomorrow (1st July) but the rest of the requirements do not kick in for private rentals until 2021, while Housing New Zealand properties do not have to meet these requirements until 2023. Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on Housing New Zealand to lead by example on improve housing standards, rather than lag behind the private sector.
“The Healthy Homes Standard do not go far enough to protect Housing New Zealand tenants from cold, damp, unhealthy conditions. There is no justifiable reason why Housing New Zealand would be given additional time to get its properties to meet these bare requirements of heating and ventilation”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty.
“The condition of the current Housing New Zealand homes means that even with insulation families are left in damp, cold homes due to the lack of proper energy efficient heaters and poor design. The cost cutting in the build of Housing New Zealand homes is passed on to tenants, who have to deal with high energy bills and healthcare costs. Insulation will not address the issue of dampness, which is a factor in our high rates of asthma and preventable respiratory diseases among low-income families.
“Our Government could be leading by example by strengthening the conditions of its own housing stock. Housing New Zealand is the biggest landlord in the country, yet it can leave its tenants in unsuitable homes for longer than the private sector.
“On top of strengthening the Healthy Homes Standards, the Government should look at reviewing the Building Code to ensure that all new social housing is designed with the health of its tenants as a priority. This could include ensuring that all new properties are provided with central energy-efficient heating, double glazed windows and skylights on top of the current requirements. This would not just lead to lower power bills for tenants but a reduction in carbon emissions due less energy being required to keep a home warm and dry.
“Investing in modern, dry, energy efficient homes create a savings down the line on healthcare. We can’t afford to have another generation of kids growing up in homes that are making them sick. After years of chronic underfunding in our public housing sector now it is the time to boldly invest to ensure we have a housing stock fit for the 21st century.