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Landlord lobby group hopes National Government will ditch warm flat requirement

Written By: - Date published: 8:49 am, September 7th, 2020 - 56 comments
Categories: housing, housing insulation, national, poverty, same old national, uncategorized - Tags:

I suspect this is not the sort of endorsement that is actually helpful.

But a landlords’ organisation has told their members to hold off making their flats warmer and drier until after the election.

From Ben Leahy at the Herald:

Landlords should wait to see if National wins October’s election before spending money refitting their rentals up to new heating standards, a lobby group for property owners says.

The comments by the NZ Property Investors Federation have been labelled “deeply disappointing” by the Labour Party and questioned by the Real Estate Institute and the NZ Green Building Council.

The advice comes after National under new leader Judith Collins confirmed to the Herald it would tear up new Healthy Homes standards recently brought in by the Labour-led Government.

The standards require – from July 1, 2021 – that all rentals be fitted with insulation, heating and ventilation within 90 days of an existing tenant renewing their lease or a new tenant moving in.

Spokesperson Andrew King presents the proposal as giving tenants more choice.

King said he would personally install a heat pump straight away if his tenant wanted it and was willing to pay a higher rent because the tenant was the customer and needed pleasing.

Kris Faafoi’s response is typically blunt:

I would find it deeply disappointing if landlords were being given advice to hold off work that ensures they are providing safe, dry, healthy accommodation for fellow New Zealanders on the basis that a more malleable government might get into power and scrap basic standards that would see New Zealand’s poor track record on healthy housing vastly improved”.

The state of some of our rental properties is appalling and contributes significantly to adverse health and education outcomes for too many of our children.  The greater good argument behind the reforms is overwhelming, or should be unless you are missing a heart.

Andrew King’s endorsement of National’s policies is actually doing the left a favour.  He is clearly showing who is looking after the interests of landlords and the interests of ordinary people.

56 comments on “Landlord lobby group hopes National Government will ditch warm flat requirement ”

  1. tc 1

    You've nailed it Mickey as one for those 'missing a heart' which befits the image Jude's projecting.

  2. Ad 2

    A great time to knock on doors and ask for a vote.

  3. Sabine 3

    The standards require – from July 1, 2021 – that all rentals be fitted with insulation, heating and ventilation within 90 days of an existing tenant renewing their lease or a new tenant moving in.

    is this enforced by government or is it like the insulation warmer house (Since 1 July 2019, ceiling and underfloor insulation is compulsory in all rental homes where it is reasonably practicable to install. It must comply with the regulations and be safely installed.) where the tenant is supposed to enforce it by complaining to the Tenancy Tribunal when the Landlord does not fit the insulation/fan? And was that extended out to 21? I thought these were to be done by 2019? Different rule?

    https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/maintenance-and-inspections/insulation/#:~:text=Insulation%20is%20now%20compulsory%20in,regulations%20and%20be%20safely%20installed.

    “If tenants think their rental property doesn’t meet the insulation requirements, they should talk to their landlord first. If they can’t resolve the issue themselves, there are several options available, including mediation.”

    edit:add link

    • RedLogix 3.1

      The term "reasonably practicable to install" is an important consideration. Not all buildings can be easily retrofitted with insulation that fully complies with the current standards.

      For instance cathedral ceilings where it would require either the removal of the roof, or the complete reinstallation of a new lower false ceiling are major expenses. Or where the existing ceiling has beams or wooden features that should be retained, but make installing new insulation very hard. There are dozens of examples of why it's not always practical to retrofit an older building to fully comply. It may well be possible to make worthwhile improvements, but demanding every home built in NZ over the last century or more, suddenly perform like it was built last year is not reasonable.

      And adding more insulation is not always the whole answer. As it happens we have two older units side by side and some years back we went to the expense of adding full spec insulation to the walls to one of them as I was rennovating it. I have to say the end result was disappointing, I could never really tell the difference between the two.

      I fully support the idea of improving building performance across the board, but a 'one size fits all' regulatory approach is going to get push back from the many cases where the fit is a bad one.

      • Sabine 3.1.1

        so many words, so little meaning.

        I repeat it again so that you understand

        is this the same rule that was set about a few years ago and did it get extended

        is this to be enforced by the tenant in absence of Government?

        but i play your game, how many Cathedrals serve as rentals for the very poor and the soon to be very poor?

        but Churches that have been converted by private owners somehow can have insulation. SO maybe its not that it is too hard, its just that some don't want to upgrade their hovels form the 18th century into the 21th century cause profits.

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/renovations/103625196/three-kiwi-families-and-their-divine-church-conversions

        have a lovely day Red.

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          A 'cathedral ceiling' is a building term that has nothing to do with converted churches. It's the very common arrangement where instead of having a flat ceiling with a large void above, instead the sloping roof rafter beams are left exposed as a feature and the ceiling boards are fixed above them.

          Another term is 'vaulted ceiling'. They can be very fancy, but they're also very common in all types and standards of building.

        • Sacha 3.1.1.2

          is this the same rule that was set about a few years ago

          No. This is what comes next.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        It may well be possible to make worthwhile improvements, but demanding every home built in NZ over the last century or more, suddenly perform like it was built last year is not reasonable.

        Yes, even houses have a use by date. If a house can't be brought up to modern standards then its use by date has obviously passed and it should be torn down. Doing so would be cheaper for the community in the long run.

        And, no, that's not an excuse for landlords to demand a profit from government largess.

        • RedLogix 3.1.2.1

          If a house can't be brought up to modern standards then its use by date has obviously passed and it should be torn down.

          That would include a lot of buildings dating from the 70's and 80's.

          And the reality of rentals is that many are buildings that are in the last 20% or so of their economic life. Many landlords actually invest quite extensively in renovating their older units, and while it's reasonable to demand that they are improved, to insist they must all be brought up to 2020 standards is not always practical.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2.1.1

            That would include a lot of buildings dating from the 70's and 80's.

            I've lived in houses from that era – many had a use by date sometime in the 1990s. The shortcuts used while building them have left them as death traps. I have seen places where structural walls didn't have the necessary structure. In one place one of the structural walls was, quite literally, hanging from the ceiling while being propped up by the gibboard and, yes, it had been like that from new.

            Many landlords actually invest quite extensively in renovating their older units,

            Many do but, from what we're seeing in the news, many more don't.

            to insist they must all be brought up to 2020 standards is not always practical.

            If it's not practical to bring them up to modern standards then they're past their use by date as they are, quite simply, not suitable for living in. That's really what the standards are for, to define what is the minimum standard for a house to be lived in.

            • RedLogix 3.1.2.1.1.1

              And what are we to do about the very large number of privately owned homes that do not meet 2020 standards? Give them all 90 days to get up to spec or throw the occupiers out into the street?

              FFS there is a reason why improved building code standards are not necessarily made retrospective.

          • Ad 3.1.2.1.2

            One of our rentals is from the 1880s and it now needs re-pointing in places. But the timber in the basement is from an old ship so it's Ironwood or Jarrah or something ridiculously dense. It's due for a good-sized revival so there's a fair bit of money going into it in the next three months.

            Another one is from 1970 and it's brick with concrete block base. Even that one needs a bit of pointing now. But otherwise it's carpet and a new washing machine.

            Most householders struggle to keep up their existing one house given how expensive upgrades are now – even the minimum 5% of the value of the house per year isn't really affordable now.

            I got through a fair bit of my annual maintenance list for our main house in Level 4 lockdown, but that was still doing something on the list every day.

      • bwaghorn 3.1.3

        I've pink batted 3 house with no crawl space . It's not a big job to take off the iron install the batts and ut it back on . Of course paying a pro will come with the added cost of scaffolding but it ain't that hard.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3.1

          Walls are the hard part but even that's not hard any more.

          Of course, that won’t help if the walls are rotten which can be a high probability for older homes, say, from the 1970s/80s.

          • infused 3.1.3.1.1

            that stuffs shit. you can't run any wires once thats put in place.

            • Muttonbird 3.1.3.1.1.1

              As if landlords do any work on their houses.

              That’s not the Kiwi way.

            • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3.1.1.2

              Well, you can, depending on if there's underfloor space or an attic to run the wires in. Just means that the connection boxes are going to be on the wall rather than in it and the wires running in some sort of channelling up/down the wall. Won't look the best, but it would still work.

  4. "Landlord lobby group hopes National Government will ditch warm home requirement"

    Its a 'rental' or 'flat' to the landlord and homeowner class..its 'home' to the life time renters….maybe if we started acknowledging that fact then the conversation (and maybe …action) around housing could finally start moving forward at something other than a (pre global warming) glacial pace.

    Language matters.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    As if any more evidence was needed that neo rentiers with their “ex staties”, and some professional landlords too, have really got it in for tenants. Recall when student allowances were raised by $50pw? Within hours certain Wellington Student accomodation prices rose by $50pw!

    Rent Control now!

    Massive State house and apartment build now!

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Massive State house and apartment build now!

      This.

      We actually need enough state housing to replace all present rentals.

      • millsy 5.1.1

        You would think that private landlords would be on board with more state housing, given that the lumpenproetarians they complain about, would be in the state houses and not tarnishing their retirement investment portfolios.

    • bwaghorn 5.2

      I bet not one person has ever thought 'I want to buy a rental because I care about people that need to rent' it's always about making a $ or paying the bills while you are of6 doing something else.

  6. Tricledrown 6

    Yeah that is utopic dreaming unfortunately.

    A combination of a capital gains tax ,a building warrant of fitness,building more state houses,building more affordable houses,having a one stop building code/development/resource consent,engineering/architectural certificates.

    Is desperately needed.past efforts of building large numbers of state houses in one area has lead to longterm endemic poverty.

    Their needs to be a balance for the best outcomes.

    • left_forward 6.1

      Really hard to follow your sentence construction – but if I get it, then I don't!

      Caring for your fellow human beings is not uncommon – doing the right thing is not some unattainable ideal – just do it FFS.

  7. Cricklewood 7

    All well in good installing heat pumps but gotta make sure people can actually afford to turn them on first…

    • greywarshark 7.1

      Yes Cricklewood – the most important thing, and this rarely gets mentioned! When it comes to warm houses, because of concerns about I think P10 pollution in the air and bad health for the chesty, we end up with solutions that tick the boxes, but don’t warm the fingers. Smoke and mirrors!

    • Shanreagh 7.2

      Great point. I am ever hopeful that there will be the appetite from Govt to undo the energy 'reforms' (Bradford's bulldust) where there is every person and their dogs clipping the ticket between the power creators and the power users. Many home owners have to watch energy consumption very carefully so no different from their neighbours who rent.

      This is long overdue and a large elephant in the room for many households.

      When we were discussing the Tiwai situation a few months ago a poster had the idea that this power could be used to lessen the cost of power to Southlanders and Otago residents to provide a welcome attraction/incentive for people to move there. Treating people equally when their circumstances are not equal is the very worst response but this is what happens. For people to live in warm houses down south costs much more than in Auckland yet energy costs the same more or less.

      We also need to get rid of the faddism that is our response to energy use. Since I have been a homeowner in Wellington (40 years) we have gone from gas everything to wood burners to heat pumps and now to solar. Typically these heat one or two rooms optimally. Meantime no research is being done on whole house heating systems (say boilers/radiators) so that the costs to install can come down, nor working out how to retrofit villas close to the ground so that black plastic can be used, let alone under floor insulation. This has been my cracked record for the last 30 or so years.

      Of course if we were to develop whole house heating systems to suit our housing stock we still have to be able to afford to pay for it out of household budgets.

  8. greywarshark 8

    Pretty stark evidence of the 'climate' we are in.

  9. Tricledrown 9

    DTB it's much cheaper to bring most houses up to modern standards than demolish and rebuild.

    Consenting and design costs start at $150,000 before any work is started then the cost of demolition $25,000 plus.

    More than a major renovation repiling proofing recladding etc.

    Older houses are built better than most modern houses especially since the destruction of the building code in 1991 by National and subsequent tinkering by both Labour and National.

    Leaky buildings is a $50 billion problem that hasn't been fixed yet.

    The building code only requires the workmanship and materials to be guaranteed for 10 yrs when in the old days a house was made to last 50 years most lasting more than a 100 with regular maintenance!

    I have a 135 year old house it has had about $60,000 dollars of work done on it another $40,000 to be spent .For me to build an equivalent new home would cost over $550 ,000. Its built of rimu and Kauri timber which is far stronger and more durable than any modern timbers.

    • Climaction 9.1

      lol. modern timbers.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      it's much cheaper to bring most houses up to modern standards than demolish and rebuild.

      For most its an option. For those it isn't then the house needs to come down and be replaced because doing so will be cheaper in the long run with healthier families living in them.

      The building code only requires the workmanship and materials to be guaranteed for 10 yrs when in the old days a house was made to last 50 years most lasting more than a 100 with regular maintenance!

      Yes, the continuing cheapness that modern capitalists demand so as to make a higher profit. Pine used to be grown for thirty years before it was cut so it would be suitable for building as the wood gets stronger as the trees age. Now it's down to 18 as there's more profit in it.

      Could you imagine the people own the forests waiting 400 years for rimu to mature so that we could have good timber to build our homes?

  10. Byd0nz 10

    Better to have a Govt that would regulate rent to match a tenants income with any landlord disagreeing, buy the property off them and add it to Gvt housing stock. Who needs more than one house anyway.

    • Michael 10.1

      Couldn't agree more. Govt needs to drive slumlords out of business altogether not make excuses for them and passing laws they have no intention of enforcing.

    • greywarshark 10.2

      One of the problems with treating rentals as cash cows, is the expectation of what would be considered a 'good' return. Buy it cheap, and charge market rates would be beaut for a while. But then because it was cheap and not in good order, money has to be spent on it. The landlord is not prepared to take a drop in his return in order to bring the house up to reasonable standard, he wants to keep milking the property and the tenant. So the place deteriorates if there is no government intervention to ensure repairs and maintenance are carried out.

      The other thing is that with the rising prices in the house market, a property can be revalued each year and the rent expected being set at a percentage of valuation, must go up to meet this required return. If house rents had provision that they must be worked out on historical value plus work carried out, that would lead to a much lower rent.

      At present the ability to raise the rents at will, for no extra expenditure except perhaps rising rates, makes housing very attractive. The ability to get increased profit for no outlay encourages more people into the housing market, demand pushes up prices, increasing values push up rents and there is a nasty feedback loop here. Government must take steps to stop this loathsome business practice – they must control this swingeing, financial finagling.

  11. Cricklewood 11

    Pretty much, I can picture politicians patting themselves on the back at getting Slum Lords in say Cannons Creek to install heat pumps. Then wandering off saying Job well done we've made those homes so much healthier with barely any thought given to the fact the Tennant's wont be able to afford running them.

  12. Michael 12

    Landlords don't have too much to fear from Labour govts either. As someone earlier in the thread pointed out, there's no appetite to actually enforce any of these new requirements by government so the status quo will continue.

  13. mpledger 13

    The thing is that any improvements are not just for the current tenants but for all subsequent tenants. To say that they shouldn't have to put in a heat pump/insulation etc because this tenant doesn't want it, doesn't mean the next tenants won't desperately need it.

  14. RosieLee 14

    1+v

  15. RosieLee 15

    ‘I don’t want a heat pump’ said no rental tenant ever.
    Well, this tenant is really concerned. My place is warm and dry, insulated to the new standard, and I keep it well-ventilated. I live in a temperate climate and seldom have to use my heater in winter. I do not want a heat pump and I cannot afford anything which may cause the rent to rise.
    Surely this can be dealt with on a case by case basis.

  16. Cricklewood 16

    Perhaps, but I'll bet we see the market flooded with cheap heat pumps that are poorly suited to NZ conditions and the houses they are trying to heat.

    Basically these requirements are a shitty bandaid trying to cover the fact Slum Lords only exist because successive govts have failed to build social housing instead fisting over huge amounts to the slum lords by way of accommodation supplements etc.

    Its a massive wealth transfer to the landlord class and it needs a Labour Green govt that are prepared to really transformative in terms of social housing. Given Labours track record since Lange I dont think its likely.

    • RosieLee 16.1

      Absoeffinlutely.

    • Foreign waka 16.2

      Yep, that is sadly true. It seems there is a lot of talk but no action. We do know that laws can be pushed through within 24 hours, don't we. So one could argue that decisive action is actually possible. Of cause only if it helps with public relations and the right audience.

    • millsy 16.3

      Heat pumps are a scam as far as I am concerned. In my experience they are hugely expensive to run.

      • Shanreagh 16.3.1

        And that is the crux of the problem. No matter how the upgrade happens and with what, heat pumps still cost money to run, ie to bring out any benefit of having a heat pump you still have to pay for it. Our energy costs are horrendous. As I said above the energy market is a mass/mess of ticket clippers all the way through with cost & several pluses then left to the poor, in many cases literally, consumer to pay. This hang-over from the time of Max Bradford needs a serious political investigation.

        If this is the current mode/fad then at least make it economic for tenants & people on fixed incomes to afford. If we can make it affordable for all then so much the better.

  17. Austringer 17

    One of my lads got this one Bedroom flat last year, in a long, ago homestead home converted years back into five flats of differing size. His, One bedroom flat cost him $260.00. PER WEEK, with exploit bonded cost added and agents fee on top. This agent assured my lad, the place has been re-decorated with new carpet and shower replacing the old outdated bath. So, my lad, dad come and see my new flat, well I ask, did they import the painters, being a retired Tradesperson, the painting cheap water paint, one coat all over every room, rolled with a heavy pelt roller, shocking, then the refurbished ex bath now shower room, hot water trickle full blast cold water. Where is the hot water tank son, in the hall, so open the cupboard on the floor is the water tank from day one of the building!s birth. So gets on the phone sitting in the lounge looking to talk to the agent to find who owns this tenement that would if brick not be found out of place in Glasgow!s Gorbals of the sixties, that!s private commercial information that I cannot share. Where is the heating for this slum, where is the hot water pressure for this slum, I ask the owners about these things he says but it!s up to them to alter these faults says this land agent, I can!t force them, then why advertise this modern renovated flat. My lad is back home with me this winter, and I see this tenement in it!s entirety is on the market.

    .

  18. NZ has too many amateur landlords who don't know wtf they are doing, view tenants with hate and suspicion, and don't want to pay a cent to maintain their property to a habitable standard. We need a "Rental home standards" agency that inspects properties and helps landlords to comply with the law. And if they fail to comply then face penalties. This agency should carry out random checks, or checks on request of landlord or tenant. Remove any right of the landlord to enter the property. Take the owner/ renter asymmetric power dynamic out of the equation and have the relationship managed by a government agency

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