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Greens: a Warrant of Fitness for rental homes

Written By: - Date published: 6:10 am, July 23rd, 2021 - 118 comments
Categories: Chlöe Swarbrick, greens, housing - Tags: ,

From the Green Party website


The Green Party is launching a petition today calling on the Government’s Healthy Homes Standards to be backed up with a proper Warrant of Fitness (WoF) for rental homes.

“Warm, dry, and healthy homes are a human right, but too often people who rent have little choice but to accept a home without the basic necessities that would make them safe and healthy,” says Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick.

“Rented homes are more likely than owner-occupied homes to be in poor condition and often do not receive the maintenance they need to be functional, safe, and healthy. This puts people who rent at risk of living in unhealthy homes.

“The Government’s Healthy Homes Standards are an important step but they’re not very enforceable. If there’s a problem, people who rent have to actively complain to the Tenancy Tribunal, but the power imbalance between renters and landlords means many renters are nervous about doing that.

“We don’t wait for rental cars to crash before we safety-test them; we require rental car companies to get regular WoF safety checks. People who rent their home shouldn’t have to get sick or complain before the safety of their home is tested and guaranteed.

“A WoF for rental homes would cover Healthy Homes Standards for heating, insulation, and ventilation as well as other basic features all homes should have, like safe electrical wiring, smoke alarms, and secure locks on doors and windows. Too often homes are rented out – at extreme cost – without these basic necessities.”

____________________________________________________________

Detail from the Green Party Homes For All policy (2020):

Improving and enforcing Healthy Homes Standards Homes should support wellbeing. But 44% of children growing up in rental accommodation are living in damp houses, and 36% are living in houses with a significant level of mould.5Rental homes are typically in poorer condition than owneroccupied homes, and due to being more likely to rent, poor quality housing disproportionately effects Māori, Pasēfika, and new migrant communities.6

The Healthy Homes Standards, introduced by the current Government are a big step forward for renters, and when these are fully implemented they will improve the quality of rental housing.

However, two additional changes are needed to ensure these standards deliver warm homes for all renters. In the next term of government, the Green Party will:

  • Extend the temperature requirement of 18 ̊C from a fixed heating source tobedrooms in rental homes.
  • Introduce a proper rental housing Warrant of Fitness (WOF).

A minimum temperature of at least 18 ̊C in all indoor living spaces is what’s needed for a healthy home, according to the World Health Organisation. The Healthy Homes Standards currently require the main living area of a rental property to be able to be heated to at least 18 ̊C from a fixed heating source.

In the next term of Government, the Green Party will extend this requirement to bedrooms. This will have a particular benefit for children, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions.

Warmer bedrooms will help reduce Aotearoa’s shameful level of hospital admission for child respiratory conditions over the winter months. This will also reduce reliance on inefficient portable heaters, which will have benefits for both energy efficiency and home safety. This new aspect of the Healthy Homes Standards will come into effect for new rental agreements from 1 September 2021, to allow time for property upgrades to occur. The final date for full compliance of existing rentals with the Healthy Home Standards will remain 1 July 2024.

The Green Party will add the enforcement mechanism of a Rental Warrant of Fitness, requiring all rental properties to be independently assessed for compliance with the Healthy Homes Standards. This will be introduced in phases, matching the implementation of the Standards themselves applying first to new rental agreements, and then expanding to all rental properties. With the combination of improved Healthy Homes Standards and the Rental Warrant of Fitness, people who rent will have confidence that their homes will keep them warm and healthy.


118 comments on “Greens: a Warrant of Fitness for rental homes ”

  1. weka 1

    • Tiger Mountain 1.1

      Hilarious–Mr Richardson understands renting from the landlords perspective rather well it seems–he was the arsehole that informed his tenants their rent would be going up on air!

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/103980377/broadcaster-mark-richardson-tells-tenants-on-live-tv-rents-going-up

      • dv 1.1.1

        Is that an admission that his properties are crap, don't meet standards and he will have to spend to get them up to standard?

        • Jester 1.1.1.1

          No not at all. His properties may be high end. Just an admission that if additional costs are put on to the landlord, they will be passed on as rent increases to the tenant.

          • dv 1.1.1.1.1

            So why did he say that the rent on his properties would be going up if his properties were ok?

            • Jester 1.1.1.1.1.1

              You seem to have missed his point. Its irrelevant whether he is renting out a $3m mansion or a one bedroom flat in the worst area. From the article: "During a segment about what's likely to appear in the forthcoming first budget from the new Labour government, Richardson said he's going to pass any increase in costs he'll face, on to his tenants. "

              As a silly example, if Labour suddenly decide all rental properties must have red curtains, the landlord will pay for red curtains to be installed. Shortly afterwards the rent will probably be increased by $5 a week to recover the cost.

    • vto 1.2

      Richardson is a classic conservative

      They hate change, and can never see reason for change

      Until later when the changes are implemented and they work and the sky doesn't fall in

      useless conservatives… Richardson should just stay down in the hold with the ballast like all other conservatives.. never let them near the helm..

      they never understand this

      • weka 1.2.1

        astute summation.

        Ballast, lol. They shouldn't take that as an insult though.

      • RedLogix 1.2.2

        They hate change, and can never see reason for change

        Have you ever worked for an organisation that changed all the time? And how the constant disruption, chaos and uncertainty undermined everything. No-one stayed in a job long enough to really understand it and become good at it? Or because of the constant threat of 're-structuring' no-one would take any responsibility or initiative?

        Organisations deliver because they operate reliable, proven systems. That's how the power stays on, the food appears in the supermarket and why most things work. So reliably we take them for granted. And given that most new ideas are in fact bad ideas – there is every reason to be wary of change.

        After all the 'leaky housing' problem of the 90's was the direct result of an idea that was originally intended to bring innovation to our housing industry. It did, but the unintended consequence we're still living with.

        Now at the other extreme of course, any society that rejects all change totally will stagnate, fall behind and will eventually be over-taken by their more progressive neighbours. There will always be tension between the impulse to innovate and to conserve. I'd argue we'd do better if we cultivated a healthy respect (and caution) around both.

        • vto 1.2.2.1

          I agree totally Red, society proceeds with the input of both progressive and conservative, absolutely, it would fail otherwise.

          But I think my point still stands… the conservatives need to understand who they are and the limits of conservatism, as much as the progressives need to tread into the future with care and thought.

          My point is that Richardson, as a conservative, is stepping out of his comfort and understanding zone. He doesn't seem to understand these dynamics (he definitely doesn't – he's a jock)

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    A noble intention but everyone will wonder about the practicality of the scheme. Govt inspectors on the trot, running around the suburbs examining defects?

    Given that bureaucrats seem to get anything wrong about half the time, arguing about whether a defect is real or merely apparent would become institutionalised. But since the whole point of the civil service is to get the unemployed off the streets and into jobs which the market has failed to provide for them, I suppose tolerance of the bureaucratic shuffle must be ramped up…

    One could balance that negative view with hope that builders will agree to higher standards, and owner maintenance behaviour will tighten up. With the right mix of incentives the scheme could work.

    • Forget now 2.1

      Kāinga Ora seem to manage regular inspections of state houses well enough via subcontracting. Although that is starting to blur from civil service to public service – would you call nurses civil servants; DF? Do you really believe they'd be out on the streets if not employed by government (presently) via District Health Boards? Do you contend that vehicle WoF are "wrong about half the time" too?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_sector_organisations_in_New_Zealand#Public_service_departments

      • Dennis Frank 2.1.1

        Overstating the point is a traditional rhetorical device. I suspect the reason for that is due to the consciousness-raising consequences. You're right that some civil servants can fall into the `essential' category.

        The analogy to vehicle WoF only works superficially. You can't take a house in to a testing station. Mechanics seem to have effective standards. We learnt from the leaky building crisis in the '90s that building inspectors do not.

        • Forget now 2.1.1.1

          Overstating the point is regarded as fabricating evidence in scientific circles. Hyperbole is a form of deception – which is also a traditional rhetorical device, I guess.

          You can take a testing station to a house however, and I have already pointed out that Kāinga Ora presently do precisely that. The "leaky buildings" of the 90s were a result of short-cuts taken by commercial builders (and suppliers, and subcontractors). Yes, the inspectors should have caught them at it – but it's hard to blame a mark too much for being taken in by a con-artist. That seems more an argument for; more thorough building inspection, by better trained inspectors, of more thoroughly tested building materials; rather than the contrary. This article is from last year:

          At his most recent estimate of $50 billion, or one sixth of the size of our entire economy, author Peter Dyer says it’s hugely expensive, but it will get even more expensive if we don’t fix it. And that’s just looking at houses, not commercial buildings…

          Professor of construction at AUT, John Tookey, says the biggest single problem at the heart of the leaky building scandal still hasn’t been resolved, which is the liability of councils.

          ”The inspection process, and the review process that councils take on board, automatically does a risk transference exercise. Ultimately council is going to be the last man standing with the deepest pockets…

          Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton says insurers are now wary of taking on risk relating to New Zealand construction.

          The industry wants improvements in terms of product traceability, the ability to pursue at-fault parties and fewer ‘phoenix’ companies, as well as higher standards of building construction, and thorough testing of products.

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/122666263/nzs-massive-leaky-building-scandal-isnt-going-anywhere-so-heres-how-to-solve-it

          • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.1.1

            Well the fact that they still haven't got it right after two decades of fumbling is what will deter most punters out there. Folks will assume the same shit will get generated by Chloe's scheme. Where's the evidence that it will not??

            • Ed1 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Not sure who "they' are, but if it gets to the stage where insurance companies are not prepared to replace local authorities as the 'last man standing' when building problems arise, and when industry itself appears to be asking for more regulation (and presumably prepared to wear the costs of that regulation and systems for approval of products), perhaps it is time to listen. Most of us know people who have had to move out of buildings while problems are sorted; and that is still happening, with some losing most of the value of a property in the process. It is enormously inefficient for individuals, the building and the country. So you not trust the industry, Dennis Frank?

              • Dennis Frank

                Those involved at the industry govt/ interface. And you must be aware of the vast number of people who don't trust the industry as the direct result of the mistakes made – I'm just one of that crowd.

                • Ed1

                  Thanks Dennis; and in general I think that works very well for vehicle WOFs. But we are human, mistakes get made, and yes the Trailer Hitches issue was potentially serious and took a lot of effort to fix. But the answer is to use mistakes to review whether the checks and balances are right; whether any system change is needed. With some there is a tendency to seize on a mistake and say everything is out of control we must throw the system out. That is what happened with some part of building trade approvals, and we had leaky homes with the Council being the last man standing, an issue that is still real. It is rare that we get to see the results of different shadings of preparedness to take risks – Covid has been one, where Australian States show how small differences in the balance between safety and allowing business to operate can give a big change in results – and has confirmed that despite numerous claims that actions should have been taken sooner / later / etc; our results continue to show that our mix of practical politics and reliance on science has served us very well. Dealing with landlords and tenants is not easy; the state housing harder than most, but when both treat the other party well there are usually better results. When poor behaviour results in illness; death, damage, higher costs then we expect the system to be able to deal with it fairly.

          • RedLogix 2.1.1.1.2

            Yup. I've had just enough hands on experience with the NZ building industry to be pretty damned disillusioned with it. I'm certain there are a minority of good competent people who do a good jib. But overall – right from the very beginning of this nation's modern history – they've typically delivered an under-performing, over-priced product. The Greens have a very legit point on this. We have decades of older housing stock and not a few of the newer ones, that really needs renovating with a bulldozer.

            But realistically that cannot be done overnight, it's a problem that can only be solved by demanding the industry as a whole builds new houses that a truly fit for the NZ purpose. Regardless of who will own or live in them over their lifetime. Then as we slowly retire the oldest stock (usually about the 80 yr mark) we will get to where we want. If we want to speed that process up, then someone needs to explain how they intend to fund and drive that politically.

        • Patricia Bremner 2.1.1.2

          Actually, leaks were due mainly to defective materials, not building inspectors Dennis.

          We have valuers, leak detectors that are hand held, so why not mobile healthy home inspectors?

          Oh and Landlords should have to have a licence displayed in the home as part of advertising that possible renters may view and check the veracity of, before signing a contract.

          It is ever the case that minor outlays by landlords and the taxpayer to create warm homes, has a greater cost benefit than dealing with life long asthma rheumatic fever and fungal infections.
          Sorry Forget now, you cover the points well. I type too slowly. lol

          • Dennis Frank 2.1.1.2.1

            leaks were due mainly to defective materials, not building inspectors Dennis.

            Not my memory of it Patricia. I saw many media reports over the years. The gist I got was partly what you said, but mostly failure to install properly by builders and failure to notice or penalise by inspectors.

            • weka 2.1.1.2.1.1

              I thought it was the whole thing. Idiotic building design (no eaves in a high rainfall area sort of thing), cowboy tradies, and councils not doing their job properly. This was the 90s though, peak neoliberalism.

              • Dennis Frank

                Indeed. I finished up in the TVNZ newroom in mid-'97 (if I recall correctly) and so may have created some of the initial reports of the scandal.

                I do recall noticing the cowboy mentality taking over, with deregulation seeming to induce that `ignore the rules' mindset throughout our culture.

              • Forget now

                It's not just a 90s thing, done and dusted, though; Weka. The first detection may have been in 1994, but the builds started in 1988 and arguably continue to this day. Repeating a link I used somewhere upthread (2.1.1.1 – I'm quoting different sections this time):

                “There are still cases popping up, we haven’t come very far along,” Dyer says.

                While many things are to blame – untreated timber, monolithic cladding, a mania for Mediterranean-style architecture unsuitable for a wet climate – in his 2019 book Rottenomics Dyer says it’s the result of bigger issues in the building industry, with both Labour and National governments responsible.

                The scale of the problem is obscured by property owners who aren’t yet aware their house is leaky, or who keep quiet because they can’t afford such a major renovation…

                lawyer Adina Thorn, representing more than 1000 leaky home owners in a $250 million case to be heard next year… has been calling for a royal commission for years, and believes that some leaky homes are still being built…

                There are still a lot of building materials being used that we don’t know much about, she says.

                MBIE, which has the power to ban building methods and products, has banned just one product under the Building Act 2004 – foil insulation.

                Dyer says uncountable tens of thousands of building products, building systems and construction methods are allowed to be “dumped on the New Zealand market”.

                https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/122666263/nzs-massive-leaky-building-scandal-isnt-going-anywhere-so-heres-how-to-solve-it

          • Cricklewood 2.1.1.2.2

            There were and and still are a number of reasons. Building inspectors looking the other way and signing off non complaint work were and still are a big part of the problem.

    • That_guy 2.2

      I am interested in the data behind your assertion that "beaurocrats get things wrong half the time". Without such data, I'm just going to interpret your response as just another form response. The form response goes like this.

      1. Suggest it's a noble but impractical idea by the naive but well-meaning hippies

      2. Make a vague mention of "beaurocrats" and claim to understand the mind of "everybody"

      3. Don't engage with any of the specifics of this detailed proposal but do make vague, unfocussed claims of "impracticality"

      Really this should be a totally uncontroversial proposal, given that we really do have real data on our substandard housing and how it's making kids sick and costing taxpayers $$$$$.

      • Dennis Frank 2.2.1

        smiley yeah, the problem (substandard housing and how it's making kids sick and costing taxpayers $$$$$) is for real

        I was commenting on the viability of the proposed solution. I'm agnostic about the extent of controversy likely, so will just point out that Labour will promptly endorse Chloe's proposal if you are right. How long will it take them to do so? Let's watch this space. If they have not done so by tomorrow, then obviously they are cowering in fear of potential controversy…

        • That_guy 2.2.1.1

          Fair enough. I'm just commenting on the fact that, as night follows day, any proposal we put up will be followed by right-wing accusations of being "well-meaning but naive", there's usually a reference to "red tape" and "useless beaurocrats", and the conclusion is always that it's "impractical" or that it's "not the right time". Predictable as the tides.

          It's just disappointing to see a response on this site that sits so firmly within this genre. It's not a naive or impractical proposal. It's detailed and evidence-based. It really should be quite uncontroversial.

          • Dennis Frank 2.2.1.1.1

            Yeah, that's why I issued a balanced view. You just reacted to the negative side of my balance, but no worries. I agree re kneejerk stuff from rightist jerks. But I'll remain sceptical of the practical implementation of Chloe's scheme until sufficient reassurance emerges (if it does).

            • Patricia Bremner 2.2.1.1.1.1

              Dennis do you think our practical implementation beaurocrats keeping our border safe are crap? Or do you generalise as a "kneejerk?" Some suggestions would be better than brickbats

              • Dennis Frank

                Media reports have been showing us multiple failures for quite a while, eh? Those have been acknowledged (as errors) by the govt. So we need to be realistic. Being all starry-eyed doesn't produce policy that actually works.

            • That_guy 2.2.1.1.1.2

              I totally admit that I'm oversensitive to the GP not being taken seriously by the Serious People when it comes to policy. It's just.. I don't know how much more competent and articulate Chloe has to be before people start assuming she's competent.

              • RedLogix

                A policy proposal to address the sub-optimal performance of all of NZ's older housing stock would be a lot more interesting than this. After all if a house really is cold and damp, it doesn't matter who lives in, the impact is the same.

                But once again just targeting rentals stinks of an ideological motive that doesn't inspire.

                • Forget now

                  Yes, that would be a worthwhile expansion of the WoF for housing proposal; RL. However, given that renters are unable to make the major building changes to their properties that home-owners can (if affordable – some might be better pulled down and starting again from the ground up), it does make sense to start with rental properties.

                • That_guy

                  In this specific case, targeting rentals is because of the obvious power imbalance between renters and tenants, and there is no such power imbalance with owner-occupiers. I have no problem with your suggestion, but that's not really the topic being discussed here.

    • RedLogix 2.3

      Some of our units that we built 20 years ago have double glazing. Over time some of the glazing unit internal seals have moved a bit and have become visible.

      According to a recent "Healthy Homes" inspection we have to replace them. Well the manufacturer no longer supports this particular product and advises the best option is to replace them with single glaze.

      Which will perform much worse, but make the inspector happy.

    • weka 2.4

      Govt inspectors on the trot, running around the suburbs examining defects?

      Given that bureaucrats seem to get anything wrong about half the time, arguing about whether a defect is real or merely apparent would become institutionalised.

      Unlikely. More likely is people experienced in the field would be employed or contracted, just like we do with vehicle WoF.

      Any new rental property has to book in an inspection (just like a car wof), and the inspector goes over the property just like a new car.

      The inspector has a list of what constitutes a pass or fail, just like with a car. And space for notes on what's likely to fail next time.

      Not hard to imagine a system where this is done well.

      • RedLogix 2.4.1

        I can definitely imagine a system that's 'done well'. Sadly I have only a modest confidence that the NZ building industry is able to deliver on it.

        After all with just a few honourable exceptions, there is precious little else they 'do well'.

        • Cricklewood 2.4.1.1

          Yeah and its it's still a shit show, you would have to be batshit crazy to buy a new apartment in Auckland even at the so called premium end of the market.

          Its a fucking shit show out there and the issues are hidden by non disclosure agreement's, failure to minute in Body Corp meetings and the PCDS statements that are no longer fit for purpose.

  3. Forget now 3

    Text from petition page (link in first line of OP):

    Everyone deserves to live in a warm, dry home and a Rental Warrant of Fitness (WoF) would help us achieve this.

    Right now, the power imbalance between renters and landlords means people who rent too often end up living in damp, mouldy housing. The new Healthy Homes Standards are a great start to improving this, but if a rental home isn’t up to scratch it’s up to the people who rent to challenge their landlord on it.

    Very few renters feel comfortable holding their landlord or property manager accountable. It could damage their relationship with their landlord and put their housing situation at risk. With so few rentals out there, leaving is often not even an option.

    We need a simple way to ensure all rentals are up to standard without a stressful and expensive fight, and a Rental Warrant of Fitness would do exactly that.

    Just like we already have for cars, a Rental WoF would make sure that all rental homes are up to standard. The Warrant of Fitness would make sure all rental homes are safe, warm and healthy to live in.

    We know Labour listens when we stand together and demand change. Sign on now and help us show overwhelming public support for a Rental Warrant of Fitness.

    13,495 signatures so far; +1 from me.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      Right now, the power imbalance between renters and landlords means people who rent too often end up living in damp, mouldy housing.

      The hard reality is that most of the cheaper rental units are houses that are in the last quarter or so of their economic life. Usually more than 40 – 50 yrs old and built in an era when heating, insulation, sun orientation and ventilation were not important considerations. They always were sub-optimal from the day they were built.

      Well the decades have passed on by, and they're no longer the kind of house people want to buy and make their home. Or if they do it's with a view to major rennovations. These were the houses that became then became rental units – because the numbers stacked up. Tenants could afford them and the landlords could turn something of a profit.

      If it now becomes necessary that all of these older houses must meet current modern standards in order to be rentals, then I'd guess that a substantial fraction of the entire NZ housing stock over 40yrs old will fail. Now if the Greens have an ideological reason to want to eradicate the housing rental business, then well and good. They can have that as a policy if they want. But it won't do squat to address the fact that most of NZ's older housing stock – regardless of who owns or lives in it – was never 'warm and dry'.

      • Forget now 3.1.1

        The hard reality is that many landlords don't care if their tenants are healthy so long as they pay the rent on time. But yeah; the question of what to do with rental properties judged not have met minimum habitable standards is not trivial.

        Rather than a simple pass/ fail system (like vehicle WoF), it could be more tiered like certification for restaurants (or anyplace that prepares food)? An A rating would be able to charge a premium rental, while an F would be not much better than a hole in the ground with a tarp on top. B and C might be rentable with due warning to all prospective tenants, while D would be banned for renting to families with children (and others with increased health risks). Immediately pulling all non-fully-compliant properties from the rental market would increase homelessness.

        Mould is a real problem for rental residents who can't do anything (beyond freestanding dehumidifiers) to fix it themselves without violating occupancy agreements forbidding structural alteration – if the landlord doesn't have the resources, or inclination, do anything about it. Especially when the property market is so tight that the only alternative may in fact be a tent in the middle of winter. This struck my eye earlier today:

        The corner walls of my room were made from the corflute sign used to sell the flat that they had taped together, painted over, and placed with long curtains over top. This wall dripped into a puddle on the constant mouldy floor whenever it rained.

        Our oil was often solid as it was sub-freezing and we couldn’t use any salt as it clumped even when triple bagged. Black mould was absolutely everywhere and I developed situational asthma in this lovely place. Our bathroom wall had completely rotted through and the tiles were slowly falling off the wall. We had a hole in our lounge floor boards – once a bag brushed against the wall and part of it broke off. Our outside drain was broken so they covered it with a board and our house flooded in heavy rain one day.

        https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/23-06-2021/who-is-wellingtons-next-top-mould-el/

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          I agree the older parts of Wellington City are especially bad. Many of the pre-WW2 houses clinging to the steep shaded hillsides are just waiting for a decent earthquake to finish them off. And good riddance.

          But neither do they represent every rental out there – and horror stories from the worst cases – are not a sound basis on which to impose potentially substantial disruption across the whole sector.

          And hypothetically I could ask, if this new policy results in landlords selling units because it's completely unviable to upgrade an 80yr old house to modern standards – are the Greens now going to require the presumably new home-owners to do the same?

          • That_guy 3.1.1.1.1

            Why would there be "substantial disruption" if you are a good landlord? It would be about $250 for an independent certification that the house is up to scratch. It would actually protect good landlords from false complaints. Someone tries to drag you to court based on lies about the property, you just walk in, slap down your WOF, and say "read it and weep".

            And if you are a bad landlord, what justifies pushing your costs onto taxpayers, who pay the medical bill for sick kids living in hovels?

            Yes, there's disruption, but it's targeted disruption, and if you are a good landlord, you're not the target.

          • Brigid 3.1.1.1.2

            If it's not viable to upgrade the property the selling price will surely reflect that. The new owners, assuming they intend to live in the property will upgrade because who, but a tenant, would put up with substandard housing?

            But you know that, being a landlord, don't you.

            • RedLogix 3.1.1.1.2.1

              In most of these cases the land price dominates. The value of the old house may be zero, but the land price still makes the exercise unviable.

              I didn’t think I had to explain that. 😈

              • Brigid

                Well the new owner would be pulling it down then wouldn't they so there would be no requirement to upgrade it.

                There would be nothing to upgrade see. Is it really necessary to explain this?

                Are you expecting we should sympathise with a landlord who is required to upgrade his 80yr old house that is so fucked it has no value? Other than, of course, the exorbitant rent he squeezes from it.

                • RedLogix

                  All very well to debate an individual case like this, but note that we both agree that houses have lifetime, especially wooden ones. After about 80 odd years they're pretty much done for in most cases. This means that every year we have to rebuild at least 1.2% of our existing stock (leaving aside any increase needed) just to replace what we have.

                  If this policy results in some non-zero fraction of houses over say 50yrs being no longer viable as rentals then inevitably then either they will be purchased by private owners (who will either live in them sub-standard and the Greens have nothing to say on this, or they'll have to decide whether it's worth throwing a bucket load of cash at a house already in the last third of it's life) – or they'll have to be demolished as you suggest and replaced. That could be quite a lot of houses involved.

                  Our building industry struggles to keep up with present demand – so it's not hard to see a policy change of like this being more disruptive than you imagine.

                  This WoF policy might be well intended, I'm not diminishing it's intent. It would be wonderful if every kiwi did indeed have the affordable choice of houses that worked properly in our climate. But this isn't a problem of our rental market alone – the root cause lies much deeper in a building game that's underperformed since forever.

      • Descendant Of Smith 3.1.2

        The real issue is not that shoddy rental housing will vanish – we as a country got rid of slum landlords once before.

        The real issue is that we simply don't have the capacity to build good quality replacement housing. We have an aged building industry workforce which successive governments have done little about. The Oz industry experts recognised this years ago and had as part of their plan recruiting 20% of their future need from New Zealand.

        I notice at least one iwi group trying to do something about bringing them back.

        "A Hawke's Bay-based iwi building company is offering overseas tradies $20,000 to return home to help with the region's housing crisis."

        Iwi chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said it was about Kahungunu repatriating its people.

        "We have skilled Māori in Australia with over 30 years' experience and they want to come home to be part of this kaupapa.

        "They will be able to come home and pass those skills onto our people while we embark on building hundreds of affordable homes".

        https://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/hawkes-bay-based-iwi-building-company-will-pay-overseas-tradies-20000-to-come-home/A4KINX7VDNKFW5BBXFAEDSWGZQ/

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Great idea from Chlöe and Greens. People that rent houses to others (which I have done reluctantly twice myself over the years) need to get the message that hovels and defects are not acceptable in 2021. Sick kids who present at Doctors or EDs should be questioned similar to possible assault victims, to assist instigating inspections of rented dwellings, if an illness might be due to damp, mould and cold.

    An important feature of proposed rental WOFs would have to be that inspections will not be triggered by tenants. “Fear is a factor” for many tenants according to tenancy advocates–fear of termination of tenancy or rent rises for “complaining”. So a neutral process by independent inspectors could deal with the scumlords that do exist.

    Yes, it would be difficult to resource and operate such an inspectorate if the experience of so many other bodies responsible for everything from food safety to fire standards are any example. Nonetheless rental WOFs should be attempted like all the other incremental efforts to reduce the amount of unfairness and anti social outcomes present in the NZ housing market.

  5. Ad 5

    We have had warrants of fitness for cars for decades, yet we have one oldest, shabbiest, most polluting car fleets in the developed world.

    We have massive new regulations for earthquake strengthening post-Canterbury, and yet there are many landlords (both public and private) who pull their heritage buildings down or demolish by neglect rather than go to the expense of retrofitting.

    We've had over three decades of perfectly price-regulated electricity with the market dominated by fully or 51% state owned generators, yet we have some of the most expensive electricity in the world.

    The idea of more and more rights regulated by yet another ethereal power rings hollow when regulation itself is simply not working, over so many fields, for so long.

    • That_guy 5.1

      Warrants of fitness don't look at pollution, they look at safety. Our dirty fleet is down to poor import standards and a lack of incentives to buy non-polluting vehicles, and we've been dragged for attempting to fix that too with the feebate scheme.

      Our dirty fleet is dirty in relation to other countries with cleaner fleets. Which means that, by definition, other countries have managed to get a cleaner fleet. If regulation doesn't work, why does it apparently work for the countries that have set higher emission standards.. and then, by your own admission, gotten a fleet with higher emission standards?

      "Regulation doesn't work" is just a vague assertion. In reality, regulation does work, doesn't work, and everything in between.. It depends on the particular regulation. you're talking about and how it's implemented.

      • Ad 5.1.1

        In January 2021, the Government agreed to introduce the Clean Car Standard – a Co2 emissions standard for imported new and used light vehicles. But other governments such as Australia have a much stricter hard line on the age of vehicles imported, which they have been doing for years. A different and more effective regulation of cars – and agree WOF doesn't regulate what it should.

        Very few of our regulatory frameworks actually deliver good policy outcomes over the long term.

        • Cricklewood 5.1.1.1

          Always unintended consequence's.

          Even the EV subsidy will likely have the effect of keeping utes running for an extra year or two… longer term given cheap second or third hand EVs are going to need new batteries at massive cost our older and worst polluting vehicles will stay on the road longer.

          There is a real arguement to be made around making small extremely efficient Petrol cars much cheaper say by offering a generous buy back scheme to fund people into cleaner vehicles.

          Will make a big difference while we work out issues around EVs.

    • Tiger Mountain 5.3

      That seems a rather defeatist position really Ad, but understandable when NZ for example has up to a dozen different agencies responsible for public health, including food safety. Do many know who to approach over that bad Korma that laid you low with gruesome campylobacter?

      Rather than scorn regulation, perhaps better to attempt to gain back some control over the decentralised, contracted out, barely accountable regulators we have become accustomed to for nearly 40 years now.

      Rental WOFs could affect many thousands of New Zealanders and would put some pressure on just like the rest of the tinkering with LVRs and interest rates etc. Ultimately a State House/Apartment mega build using modular construction, and tiny houses for homeless is needed. One NZ modular builder is begging for work but the flow is intermittent and does not seem to have been green lit by anyone at senior level. Kāinga Ora targets seem static.

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018800028/a-modular-solution-to-the-housing-crisis

      • Ad 5.3.1

        We've decentralised and recentralised, privatised and nationalised, and TBH I'm no longer convinced with the efficacy of this state, over multiple governments. Yet another set of bullshit from the Greens without thinking about how to do it.

        • weka 5.3.1.1

          whatever else happens, a left wing government at some point is going to have to address the massive problems within government departments that have been underfunded and over neolibbed for years. Loss of institutional knowledge is one of the big ones I come across, with staff thinking working somewhere for 2 years is a long time.

          • Ad 5.3.1.1.1

            Agree. A common problem is that 'management' is now a generic qualification which is interchangeable, so that you can have management experience in house and manage in transport, management experience in Corrections and manage in electricity.

            I come across this all the time: they actually don’t have the credibility to talk about what they are talking about.

            There are of course great and noble exceptions, and they are the ones who truly work their ass off.

            Not sure if that's a 'neolib' thing but sure as hell isn't generating any fresh policy.

            • weka 5.3.1.1.1.1

              the shift from management experienced in the area they are managing, to generic management strikes me as central to the neoliberal shifts in the 90s. Certainly what happened in Health, where practitioner managers were replaced with university-styled managers (not dissing uni degrees there, just pointing to the lack of experience in the field), and the associated social engineering that got everyone to accept that as normal.

          • Tiger Mountain 5.3.1.1.2

            The heartless cultural artefact of “Roger’n’Ruth” is “managerialism”, whereby just about any human activity imaginable can be reduced to the status of a transaction.

            Rolling back the neo liberal state and the fifth columnists within, is the major strategic challenge for boomer successor generations imo.

            • weka 5.3.1.1.2.1

              definitely a major challenge.

              Relational vs transactional. How does the system get repaired?

        • Patricia Bremner 5.3.1.2

          Perhaps we emulate successful countries?

          • Ad 5.3.1.2.1

            Step 1. Don't be guided by other countries. Think for ourselves.

            Step 2. Since this government has such an awesome capacity to print money with its Reserve Bank, I would buy back the 49% of the gentailers they don't own. It would be a market shock but then this government has renationalised whole industries, rebuilt entire cities, and propped up whole industries in a year with subsidy – so their interventionist policy is greater than apparent.

            Step 3. Require electricity to be generated at proven safest and least cost. Same legislation that guides Watercare, for example.

            Step 4. Use the state income to build lots of windfarms and set a hard timeline to get out of thermal coal production.

            You try a scenario for housing if you like.

            • Forget now 5.3.1.2.1.1

              Why should we not be guided by other countries achievements and errors? Yes; there are risks in adopting overseas schemes in too rote a manner, without adapting them to our particular requirements. But there is no benefit to constantly reinventing the wheel on every policy.

              I sure hope they have learnt from us what not to do in the provision of healthy and affordable homes to all citizens

              • Ad

                Because our conditions in housing are close-to unique.

                And we have to learn to think. We've imported out thinking for too many years, and TBH the results are weak at best.

  6. vto 6

    the healthy homes standards for heating are higher than building code

    means if you build to code you will fail to meet healthy homes standard are cannot tenant the home. … duh… a bureaucratic coordination cock-up catching a lot of people out right now.

    lower standards for owner-occupiers….

    just saying.. teethng issue but..

    • Patricia Bremner 6.1

      Yes vto, our home heating is often below 18deg for the spare bedroom and back hallway!!

      Perhaps all homes should have to be brought up to standard before letting and before sale?

    • Brigid 6.2

      "the healthy homes standards for heating are higher than building code"

      Could you point to the relevant data that demonstrates this? I don't believe the building code mentions heating standards at all, just insulation standards.

  7. Incognito 7

    Any analogy with a WOF for motor vehicles is inherently flawed as that WOF is for all vehicles, not just ‘rental cars’ and ‘public transport’, taking the analogy even further, also needs to comply, which is not (yet) the case with the Healthy Homes Standards.

    All people should live in healthy homes and this should include owner-occupied dwellings.

    The division between rentals and owner-occupied has been raised as have issues with over-specified heating requirements.

    "The whole heating tool is a big issue and has been from the start.

    "We've had heating experts, heating engineers, talk with government and say the heating tool requirements of the Healthy Homes are way more than you'd ever need in a property," says Cullwick.

    The government is taking another look at the heating assessment, which she welcomes.

    A new build is not subject to the Healthy Homes standards – until tenants move in.

    Cullwick says that creates more headaches as there is no consistency between those standards and the Building Code.

    "They really need to change the Building Code, then every new build is up to the Healthy Homes standard, otherwise if you buy a new build today and you're looking at putting tenants in it, you actually need to get the heating up to the requirement of the Healthy Homes."

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/445934/healthy-homes-significant-heating-problem-found-as-standards-take-effect

    These arguments are not limited to new builds and apply as much to existing and older homes too! It may have the perverse outcome of creating a division in housing stock and the housing market and it would not be the first time this happens with good intentions.

    Inconsistency and weak justification are never a good basis to induce voluntary compliance, which is perhaps why a whole new regulation industry is now being preposed to enforce the rules. Meanwhile, the heat pump industry is booming and installers are flat out.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Excellent! Well reasoned and well expressed.yesyes

      I've really nothing more to add to this.

    • Muttonbird 7.2

      But a rental car company, or public transport operator, or fleet owner which had its vehicles unwarranted would be out of business very quickly, as well as fined. The same is not true for individual car owners because here is no business at risk.

      The same applies to housing. It is the existence of business run for profit which obliges their product or service to be safe.

      • Incognito 7.2.1

        The same is not true for individual car owners because here is no business at risk.

        Using this logic, private cars don’t need to be warranted and safe, which is obviously not the case. Seems you’re missing or misunderstanding the point.

        • Muttonbird 7.2.1.1

          An unwarranted vehicle is a danger to others, the same canon be said about an unwarranted house.

          It's the profit seeking which makes rental warrants important.

          • Shanreagh 7.2.1.1.1

            Not sure I agree with this…..depends how they fail. Major failings like water coming in or holes in the floor can definitely endanger one's health. Just have to listen to the babies in hospital with bronchitis & asthma etc. Dry homes help prevent all types of illnesses.

            • Muttonbird 7.2.1.1.1.1

              No doubt about that.

              But Incognito is arguing along the lines of the Investor's Federation's Sharon Cullwick. She says you can't have a warrant of fitness for rentals and not have one on owner-occupied homes, so don't have one at all.

              I'm saying the first criteria for a warrant is the business, profit seeking intent of the landlord and we should implement it on them now.

              [Head meets desk

              But Incognito is arguing along the lines of the Investor’s Federation’s Sharon Cullwick. She says you can’t have a warrant of fitness for rentals and not have one on owner-occupied homes, so don’t have one at all.

              This is why so many threads here go nowhere and ‘debates’ become exercises in futility: people are not listening to others, spreading misinformation, and mispresenting others. Since I have to rule out sheer stupidity that leaves only two possibilities: 1) trolling; 2) can’t think of a second one, so benefit of doubt it is.

              From the same link as before:

              There’s been a major problem with the heating assessment – resulting in landlords buying heat pumps and heaters that are too large for the property.

              The government’s had two years to sort out the details, but now the responsible minister’s been told there’s a problem with the way properties are assessed for heating, and it should be changed.

              Associate Minister for Housing (Public Housing) Poto Williams says officials have been told by the sector the assessment tool’s been overstating the heating needed.

              However, New Zealand Property Investors’ Federation executive officer Sharon Cullwick says the problem extends beyond just apartments and new builds.

              “The whole heating tool is a big issue and has been from the start. [my italics]

              Clearly, the issue is a specific one, i.e. the heating tool, not the overall Healthy Homes Standards. Ms Cullwick suggests “[t]hey really need to change the Building Code, then every new build is up to the Healthy Homes standard”.

              Ms Cullwick didn’t comment at all on the proposed WOF in that article simply because it is dated 1 July 2021, i.e. before Chlöe Swarbrick’s WOF idea.

              Since you made two assertions, I invite you to back them up with evidence. Where does Ms Cullwick say that you can’t have a WOF for rentals at all? Where do I say this and/or agree with Ms Cullwick on this? You have the option to correct yourself and withdraw, as always. Or take a ban – Incognito]

              • Incognito

                See my Moderation note @ 3:53 pm.

                • Muttonbird

                  Apologies, it was the wrong Sharon Cullwick article on WOFs you were promoting. I thought it was this one:

                  https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/renting/125816286/time-not-right-for-a-rental-warrant-of-fitness-landlords-say

                  Your comment was a complaint about the rental WOF not being applied to owner-occupied dwellings and quoted New Zealand Property Investors' Federation executive officer Sharon Cullwick, so I naturally assumed it was the same argument. In fact in the Stuff article dated 22 July she does use the same argument:

                  Also, regulations around healthy homes should apply to owner-occupier and rental properties, including Kāinga Ora and community housing providers. Owner-occupied homes can be unhealthy too.

                  But I accept her and your complaint about the government in your comment was largely different to that in the article I had read, so I withdraw the specific statement, "She says you can't have a warrant of fitness for rentals and not have one on owner-occupied homes, so don't have one at all". But it's important to note she does not want a WOF, but for different reasons…

                  Cullwick's argument against The Greens' WOF proposal is that it's too hard, and unnecessary. Presumably Cullwick feels its unnecessary because landlords will simply comply in their own good time. Many landlords do not comply with even basic maintenance requirements knowing their tenants will not complain because of fear of eviction. Chloe Swarbrick's WOF is about taking away the burden of policing from the tenant and placing it on the landlord. Landlords' hate that because they actually have to do something.

                  If you want to do the car analogy, The Greens want to make the rental fleet or bus company owner responsible for compliance, while Sharon Cullwick wants bus passengers themselves to alert authorities about unsafe buses.

                  The New Zealand Property Investors' Federation is by definition a body solely interested in the wellbeing and profits of amateur landlords. The corollary is they are not interested in the wellbeing of tenants. Tenants are stock rather than customers to them. So I find it difficult to swallow anything promoting what Sharon Cullwick has to say on the residential tenancy industry and always react a little too quickly sometimes.

                  Sharon Cullwick and Andrew King have loud voices and always use the same methods to obstruct industry reform. One of the biggest lies they trot out is that they are concerned for tenants about reform putting upwards pressure on rents. They don't care about rising rents for tenants, they only care about how hard it is to extract those rising rents from tenants.

                  On the division in housing stock heating I can't really see the issue. If you put tenants in to make a profit from them, you bring it to the standard.

                  Simples.

                  • RedLogix

                    If you put tenants in to make a profit from them, you bring it to the standard.

                    So if meeting the new standard is so costly there is no profit remaining – does this mean I don't have to meet your standard? Or should I just bang the rent up again?

                    Oh let me guess the answer. It's really the concept of the profit you don't like so you would tell me to sell the house to a homeowner. In which case whether or not it remains sub-standard seems to be a matter you're happy to remain silent on.

                    Whether you support this proposal because it's another chance to stick it to the hated landlord class, or whether it's to actually improve the standard of housing for all kiwis isn't at all clear from your reasoning so far.

                  • Incognito

                    Apology accepted, thank you.

                    I have already bailed out of these pointless threads and will only get involved as Moderator. Suffice to say I disagree with a number of points you made in this and other comments and that you continue to miss my point as well as RedLogix’s one, perhaps for obvious reasons.

                    I don’t want to waste any more time on this.

    • Ed1 7.3

      The comparison with a vehicle WOF is reasonable, and can be used to cover a variety of issues. For example owners should be able to get a Building warrant for a new build, with no further report required for at least a certain period. For older buildings, a WOF may be required more frequently, with the duration being set by the inspecting body. For a tenanted property, the latest WOF report should be available to prospective tenants, with a statement from the landlord / letting agency identifying any issues which may no longer comply. Tenants should be able to arrange a fairly cheap inspection for some issues, but also there should be a central body (perhaps one that also certifies inspectors) that may randomly make inspections, charging costs only where a WOF has to be withdrawn, and having the power to inspect other properties of a landlord / letting agency that appears to justify such perusal. Essentially it should be a system based on trust plus periodic inspections as justified. No tenant should feel they have no way of defending rights against an intransigent landlord / letting agency, but also the landlord should be able to avoid wasting money on ignorant complaints about normal issues with living in New Zealand.

    • McFlock 7.4

      Not quite, by my reading.

      A WoF is for light, personal vehicles.

      Heavy vehicles and commercial passenger vehicles require a CoF.

      Commercial passenger vehicles, like taxis and rental cars also require CoF assessments.

      So while "WoF" is the analogy everyone understands (meets basic structural and safety standards), the application is more like the "Certificate of Fitness" if WoFs didn't exist.

      A rental vs your own home is a commercial residential building vs a private residential building, equivalent to a commercial passenger vehicle vs a private passenger vehicle.

      Different certification between rentals and private homes is consistent with different certification requirements for vehicles.

      But unpicking it is all a bit tortured when everyone should know that the basic point is that the poorest people shouldn't be packed into unhealthy slums, so all rentals should have minimum standards.

      • Ed1 7.4.1

        Thanks, and yes it does get a lot more complicated for heavy vehicles – just as it does for multi-story apartments. On the heating issue, I saw a complaint from a landlord that he was being required to install a larger heat pump when the tenants were not even using the smaller one. One explanation may be that the tenants cannot afford to run the heating – low income plus high rental may create problems that are not the landlords to fix.

        I suspect local authorities, and possibly local MPs, have an idea who the problem Landlord / letting agencies are – in large cities where it can be hard to find somewhere else to live; intimidation may not be easy to prove, but it may exist; having the ability to arrange a random inspection without a formal complaint may not be unreasonable, especially if there is no cost to the landlord unless they are found to be wilfully non-compliant.

        • McFlock 7.4.1.1

          Thing is that maybe these tenants don't need the heat pump, but the next ones might.

          And that's if the "never use" is actually accurate: it could be a bit like how everyone I kicked out when I was a pub bouncer was "just having a good time, what did I do wrong".

  8. Incognito 8

    If/when the border re-opens, the rental market might experience an exodus of properties to short-term accommodation such as Airbnb, because they don’t need to comply with the Healthy Homes Standards AFAIK and thus be able to bypass any WOF or what have you. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

    • arkie 8.1

      You would see that regardless of any WOF as pre-pandemic many former rental properties were being used for Airbnb's. The status quo isn't sufficient to prevent children growing up in unhealthy housing.

      • Incognito 8.1.1

        I’m talking about implications and outcomes (AKA consequences), not about intentions, even if/when they’re good, to start with. It is a similar issue with properties that are too expensive to bring up to standard and cheaper to bulldoze down to the ground. Is that helpful?

        • arkie 8.1.1.1

          The concept of this WOF is to ensure compliance with the Healthy Homes Standard. The HHS has been law since July 2019, but it has only been required for new tenancies as of July this year. I think 2 years and 90 days is quite a decent amount of notice to take the necessary actions for property owners.

          Landlords are responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of their rental properties. These standards will help ensure landlords have healthier, safer properties and lower maintenance costs for their investments.

          https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes/about-the-healthy-homes-standards/

          I don't know when the last time you rented housing but currently the situation heavily favours the landlords, people are prepared to lump it because of the scarcity of good quality rentals.

          "Very few renters feel comfortable holding their landlord or property manager accountable. It could damage their relationship with their landlord and put their housing situation at risk. With so few rentals out there, leaving is often not even an option."

          https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/07/rental-property-wofs-greens-chl-e-swarbrick-says-rental-property-wofs-would-protect-good-landlords-as-well-as-tenants.html

          I don't think advocating for inaction because of hypothetical consequences (which I was pointing out, were pre-existing) is helpful, no, and I'm pleased to see this proposal and the discussion it has provoked.

          • Incognito 8.1.1.1.1

            I don’t think advocating for inaction because of hypothetical consequences …

            Who here is advocating for inaction? Sounds like a strawman.

            The shoot-first-then-ask-questions hypothetical consequences is a euphemism for failing to think through proposals before it’s too late and shit hits the fan, which is a euphemism for a fabulous fuck-up.

            The power imbalance is also a strawman because it equally applies to the regulations forcing landlords to comply with half-baked rules & regulations that are inconsistent with others that apply to all other housing albeit new build more than old houses because new build can be controlled and enforced easier than existing stock.

            As usual, the discussion here is superficial and along the usual lines of engrained thinking and ideological division, but I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I’ll bail out here because it is a waste of my time.

  9. When we go out for a meal we expect that we will be safe and mostly we are because of the food safety regime or in our cars with the WoF regime. The food safety regime has a series of gradings and restaurants/fast food places have to make sure the certificates are visible. WoF is a pass fail test.

    Surely the same as expecting not to get sick from one's rental housing. A series of gradings rather then pass/fail might work better to start for rental housing.

    Can't see the problem.

    It might have the effect of hastening the turnover of old dungers of houses so people can build new houses or upgrade the current stock.

    To really move this from a great to a fantastic idea it needs to go hand in hand with reviewing the energy sector so our tenants can actually afford to turn the heaters and heat pumps on.

    Or, if this cannot be done then a recognition that benefit levels need to go up.

    • Forget now 9.1

      I was suggesting much the same upthread (somewhere); Shanreagh. The properties which got A-grades for total compliance would be able to charge more, those lower down the scale, less. Maybe even with restrictions against children &/or those predisposed to respiratory illness occupying the places that receive lower grades short of a total fail (if only because during the ongoing housing crises, we need every residence we can possibly use until we can build some more fit for human habitation).

      • Shanreagh 9.1.1

        Yes I think we should have a graded system like food safety rather than a pass fail like WoF

        We would need to design what each grade looked like and then, as you say, perhaps limit the types of tenants to each grade so we do not have vulnerable people only being able to choose the poorest grades.

        Agree we need to keep as many rentals in circulation but equally have a way of encouraging or moving either the owners on or the properties to a better landuse (higher density) or more modern.

        What would e do about the defiant? We don't want a whole lot of 'ghost' houses.

  10. Treetop 10

    The Tenancy Act falls short when it comes to extractor fan noise (5 in total from 2 other tenancies) vibrating and humming through my subdivided tenancy 1-2 hours a day. Some landlords do not know whisper quiet appliances can be installed. Listening to the 3 bed weeing and the toliet roll holder is not pleasant when eatting. The other tenant her bed squeaks, creaks and the springs are heard all night as well as the extractor fan which is hooked up to their bathroom light wakes me up. Not fun listening to footsteps after 10 pm by 4 people either.

    No quiet area to run to in my home. Random noise especially after 10 pm is intrusive.

    • Shanreagh 10.1

      This is an important point.

      Are the current rules about party/shared walls/ceilings not fit for purpose? Wouldn't surprise me.

      Have you got concrete block or gib framing between you?

      • Treetop 10.1.1

        Not sure what you mean by jib framing? There are no sound proof batts or concrete.

        A real botch up job was done 2 years ago with some jib and mass loaded vinyl by 2 idiots who did not have a clue. Material was cut short and about 200 jib screws used.

        The shower water can be heard hitting my lounge wall, the soap being dropped and the boom from the shower magnet. Up to 4 people showering after 10 pm.

        I have tried ear plugs but I hear my heart beat. I have no hearing in my left ear and when my right ear is on the pillow I still hear the vibrating and humming.

        My last resort is making a sound proof pillow and going to the Tenancy Tribunal.

        Other nasties in my home as well. Some landlords do not know how to be a landlord. A property manager manages the 3 bed and other 1 bed.

        Up until 18 months ago a considerate tenant was quiet between 10 pm – 7 am. A month ago I moved into the lounge because I was nearly bursting into tears every night.

        • David_Mac 10.1.1.1

          I think you need to find a new landlord Treetop. Just start applying for places that appeal. You have an attractive story to tell. "I'm a quiet, private, house-proud individual that finds themselves living in a flat in a partioned house and 4 noisy people just through the paper thin wall. I long for peace and quiet, a small garden, your place looks perfect" etc

          I think it's hard to get close to being happy most of the time if we don't love where we live.

          • Treetop 10.1.1.1.1

            My situation is not an isolated one. I require secure housing, 5 years ago my previous landlord sold my home. It is unlikely that my current place would be sold.

            The disappointing thing is that I do think where I live could be improved by whisper quiet appliances. There is a gap in the law when it comes to reasonable quiet and enjoyment of the tenancy. I compare my place to a boarding house, boarding houses have set rules.

            I will go and speak to a council inspector in the near future. Then issue a 14 day letter.

            My landlord inspects frames on buildings for a job. Seriously and when it comes to his responsibilities too lazy/stupid or both.

        • Shanreagh 10.1.1.2

          What I meant was wooden framing with just gib board over the top…….sounds like you do.

          Like you I feel hearing others kitchen and bathroom noises is not desirable and I often wondered why more units could not be separated by garages where this is possible. I know end on bathrooms are cost driven but even they would be better than a bedroom being end on to someone's bathroom especially when the walls are not properly soundproofed.

          Once again we could learn from overseas places where concrete is often used for walls between tenancies.

          If you go to the TT you may have to get some Db readings done. There are different allowances for noise after certain hours.

          You mention the gib screws and the bodgy job……do you think there was consent to do this?

          • Treetop 10.1.1.2.1

            Think no consent was given by the council.

            My brother runs a small building company and lives in another part of the country. When he saw the botch up he said it all needs to be ripped out and redone.

            3 hours into the job I tried to stop it as a call to my brother confirmed the job would be a fail.

            Yes a noise meter would be required. The reverberation is awful as from hard surfaces (a laundry, 2 bathrooms, 2 toliets and a kitchen).

            I could set up a Web cam with sound.

            • David_Mac 10.1.1.2.1.1

              What is your ideal outcome Treetop?

              What are you trying to achieve? To prove that the house is not compliant? That your landlord is in breach of the law?

              Tilting at windmills. A 100% win leaves you in the same situation.

              Carp Dime

              • Treetop

                Ideal out come is a quiet bedroom (minimal noise) from 10 pm – 7 am.

                In order for action to occur establishing compliance and whether in breach of the law is required.

                That the law for a subdivided old house (standards when built) that reasonable quiet and enjoyment of the tenancy is unachievable.

                Location and cost of rent is why I remain where I live. As well landlord is unlikely to sell. Housing market is tight. I have been on the council housing list for 18 months with two specialists letters.

                Tenancy Tribunal would be a hollow victory.

                • RedLogix

                  I'm genuinely sad to read this TT. I cannot know the history of your unit, but I'm guessing it was never built with multi-tenancies in mind from the day it was built. Retrofitting effective sound insulation into older buildings can be tricky even if you do know what you're doing.

                  I don't think the Tenancy Tribunal is going to be of much help if you approach this as a noise issue. But from your description I'll bet the place does not meet fire regulations.

                  • Treetop

                    Initially my 1 bed was part of a 2 bed. These days I live in a bed sit (as lounge is not as bad as the bedroom) due to the noise from the other 1 bed behind my unused bedroom in the subdivided house.

                    My lounge is open plan with the kitchen. The laundry and bathroom there is no space for a single foam mattress to crash on.

                    Yes it would take an expert to get it right to reduce noise.

                    At least I have a home.

                    • RedLogix

                      OK that's a clearer picture. The situation you are in is definitely not a happy one and you have every reason to want to find a way to improve it. Normally I'd say what others have suggested, move on to something better, but in the current situation this isn't an option for you.

                      The reason why I hinted that fire regs are perhaps a better lever is that your landlord has good reason to be concerned about his/her insurance situation. And that if they can be persuaded that it's in their interests to upgrade the fire separation between the units, then sorting out the sound issue at the same time would be much easier. Indeed to two tend to go hand in hand, good fire resistance also tends to equal lower noise if it's done with a bit of thought.

                      And as others have said, you might win 100% at the Tenancy Tribunal but end up in exactly the same situation. Therefore I'm thinking that a more collaborative approach is likely your best bet. Keep in mind that most landlords actually prefer reliable, long-term tenants and do put some value on that. The last thing I want is a constant parade of unknown people moving in and out every six months because the law of averages says that sooner or later I'll strike one of those 5% of bad tenants.

                      Also keep in mind that profit margins are nothing like as high as people here like to imagine, so there is always a reluctance to upgrade where there will never be any payback. It would be the same if you owned the place – you'd be reluctant to overcapitalise on the property. Same motivation, just played out differently. A shortage of reliable trades-people doesn't help either.

                      As I've said elsewhere, NZ has a long history of underperforming buildings, and expectations have shifted. On the day it was built the house you are now living in, was quite likely someone's dream home – they were delighted with it. It was probably a huge step up for them. Now 60 or more years later, not so much. Worse still it's been cheaply sub-divided for a different purpose.

                      Reasonable basic maintenance to keep a building in as-built condition is one thing – demanding as a nation that we constantly upgrade all of our housing stock to meet ever-changing standards is another. And the NZ housing industry has in my view consistently under-served the nation – leaving us a legacy of problems just like yours that don't have easy solutions.

                      I think your best bet, and I admit it isn't ideal, is to do some research on the fire regs as they apply to your situation. Then approach your landlord with your concerns and suggest a potential solution. It's a bit of a long shot, but better than doing nothing.

                      Some years ago in Ballarat we asked our landlord for a heat pump (contrary to what kiwis imagine, some parts of Aus can get fricking cold in winter) and initially we got knocked back. But we went back via the property manager, made our case as reliable tenants again and offered to pay for half of it. Deal done, nice and toasty after that.

                    • Treetop []

                      Apparently if a landlord needs to do major renovations they can give the tenant 90 days notice.

                      All the fire walls are all on my side. The dry wall is at least 50 years old. Initially I wanted walls opened up and sound proof batts and sound proof fire walls. Landlord said he needed a permit, but a property developer told me a permit was not needed.

                      A wall heater was installed in the bathroom 6 cm from the wall, I raised this with the landlord and told him it could affect an insurance payout. It got moved to correct specification within the week.

                      There is no fixed heating in the lounge, I am working on this. I do not get any sun in my home 6 months of the year and I get Reynalds when temperature is below 18 deg.

  11. David_Mac 11

    I'm up in the sub-tropical Far North. Right now, I'm wearing board shorts and a T-shirt, I'll put a hoodie and slippers on in a few hours. I'm yet to turn a heater or heat-pump on this year. May not.

    I think our recently implemented healthy homes legislation for rentals has a fundamental flaw. The landlord in Bluff is required to meet exactly the same criteria as landlords at Cape Reinga. Any rental in Northland that isn't sitting on a concrete pad and doesn't have a waterproof membrane underneath is currently in breach of the law…..Slumlords! Is there anyone installing waterproof membranes under houses in the Far North? I wouldn't know where to start.

    It's a great idea, they all are, we need to get better in so many areas. Mike King in tears makes me want to cry, but sheesh, execution wanting.

    Between good intentions and a job well done, the abyss.

    • arkie 11.1

      The landlord in Bluff is required to meet exactly the same criteria as landlords at Cape Reinga.

      This is not so, the insulation standards vary regionally:

      Insulation requirements are measured by R-value. R-value is a measure of resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

      Minimum R-values vary across New Zealand. Use the map below to check what zone your property is in.

      https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/healthy-homes/insulation-standard/

      • David_Mac 11.1.1

        Hi Arkie,

        Thanks, yes, insulation standards, climatic zones were considered. I stand corrected. Waterproof underfloor membranes, it appears to apply nation-wide.

        I wonder when inspectors are due to hit Northland? Electricians have installed so many heat-pumps they're buying baches. Part of me wants to quit moaning and monopolise all over the illegal rental houses in Northland…. Dr Dave's Tropical Membranes Inc.

        It's poor execution Arkie.

        Thumbing through the RTA, looks like they all need a membrane to comply.

      • Treetop 11.1.2

        The insulation standard is a fail when it comes to insulation not being fitted in the ceiling, this is the case where I live.

        When it comes to under floor insulation some insulation absorbs foot steps better than other insulation.

        So one size does not fit all.

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