Healthy Home Standards means better houses for vulnerable

Feb 26, 2019 | News

This is about saving lives of young children and older people especially, who are made ill by the condition of their homes and die as a result. This is about helping children stay well so they can attend school and improve their education. This is about ensuring those who are living with a disability can find rental housing that helps them to live well with their disability. This about helping people stay healthy and remain in the paid workforce, have fewer sick days and be more productive.

The churches social services are working with thousands of people who are renting in the private rental market. Many of those people face huge problems with cold, draughty and damp housing which for a variety of reasons are not maintained by landlords and property managers to a decent standard. The new standards will require rental properties to have decent heating and insulation as well as proper ventilation, draught-stopping and moisture protection.

The right to decent housing is one of the basic human rights and should be seen as a central priority for a wealthy country like ours. Yet the poor state of many private rental houses fails to meet this fundamental part of a decent society.

Up to a third of rental housing, about 200,000 homes, need some sort of upgrade. The one-off costs to landlords to comply with the standards, estimated at a maximum of $7,500 – $10,000 per property are reasonable and most properties will cost less than this to meet the standards.

Landlords have enjoyed large capital gains over recent decades as average property values in many places have risen. In the largest private rental market, Auckland, the costs of meeting the standards make up barely 1% of the market value of many rental properties. Meeting the standards should be seen as basic good practice in maintaining a home and ensuring it retains its value.

It is unlikely these new standards will reduce the supply of rental housing overall, simply because the demand and need for that housing is high, says Paul Barber. There are too many other factors that influence the rental market. What we do know for certain is that, with proper enforcement, these standards will ensure that the quality of rental housing for all people living here in this country will improve significantly.

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