The NZ Government passes Health Homes Guarantee Act

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, December 1st, 2017 - 119 comments
Categories: health, housing, housing insulation, human rights, law, tenants' rights - Tags: ,

via Scoop:


Thursday, 30 November 2017, 6:25 pm

Press Release: New Zealand Government

Healthy Homes a milestone for New Zealand

Every New Zealander deserves a warm, healthy home to live in, and the Health Homes Guarantee Act will help ensure that, said Minister of Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford.

“The passing of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act is a huge leap forward for public health and is another one of the Labour-led Government’s 100 Day promises kept,” Mr Twyford says.

“Until now, rental properties have been treated differently from other products. A butcher isn’t allowed to sell meat that will make their customers sick, but a landlord has allowed to rent out a house that is too cold, or damp and damages the health of its occupants.

Most landlords do a good job, but the fact is the lack of legal standards means some rentals are not currently fit to live in. 40,000 children a year are admitted to hospital due to diseases are related to poor housing, and 1,600 New Zealanders’ lives a cut short by illnesses caused by living in cold, damp conditions. This has to change. Thanks to this law, it will.

“I want to thank Andrew Little for his work in bringing this legislation to Parliament and through its first stages as a Member’s Bill. I also want to acknowledge the support of New Zealand First and the Greens in passing the Bill into law. National will have to explain to New Zealanders why they have stood beside a few slum landlords, rather than stood up for the health of our families.

“This law enables the Government to set standards for rental housing quality. The Healthy Homes standards will cover heating, insulation, ventilation, draught stopping, drainage and moisture. Many landlords will already meet these standards and will not have to change anything. For those that need to upgrade their properties, government grants for installing heating and insulation will be available.

“The Government will run a consultation process over the next 18 months to ensure that tenants, landlords, public health and building science experts and industry representatives have an opportunity to get involved in creating robust minimum standards” Mr Twyford says.


Green Party press release:

Greens celebrate passage of Healthy Homes Bill

Marama Davidson MP on Thursday, November 30, 2017 – 17:48

The Green Party is today celebrating the passing of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, which works towards ensuring that no New Zealanders get sick from the house they live in.

“The passing of this legislation will make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Zealand families,” said Green Party housing spokesperson Marama Davidson.

“The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill will significantly improve the quality of rental accommodation, lifting children out of poverty and helping to reduce deaths from preventable diseases.

“I congratulate Minister Twyford for ensuring the passage of this legislation so early on in the term of the new Government.

“National had nine years to improve situations for tenants, but under their watch things only got worse.

“We are proud to have put minimum housing standards and renters’ rights on the political agenda.

“My colleague Gareth Hughes brought the first rental warrant of fitness bill to Parliament in 2010, and National voted down a similar bill in the name of Metiria Turei in 2016.

“We will continue to push for everyone to have a warm, dry and affordable home to call their own and today marks a significant step in achieving that,” said Ms Davidson.


Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) legislation

Background explanation (2015)

119 comments on “The NZ Government passes Health Homes Guarantee Act ”

  1. All those multi property investor landlords will raise their rents no doubt to pay for the upgrades required so the tenants will pay for some of this.
    But I support this as it is needed, as so many families are living in sheds and cars that are not insulated either?

    • Ed 1.1

      Hopefully the government will learn from the Germans about improving rental conditions and controlling the greed of private landlords.

    • Enough is Enough 1.2

      Rental should be regulated.

      No one should be profiting from worker’s human right to live in a house.

    • carlite 1.3

      Multi-property investor landlords will probably not be able to raise their rents any more than usual. If they have any sense, they will be getting as much as they can already. People often forget the second part of that supply/demand graph – the money has to be there in the first place in order to pay the increases.

  2. tc 2

    well done and more of this from the gov’t please to remind people why this type of measure wasn’t put in place a long time ago

    ” National will have to explain to New Zealanders why they have stood beside a few slum landlords, rather than stood up for the health of our families. “

    • Ed 2.1

      They are the slum landlords themselves?
      As are their friends.

      • cleangreen 2.1.1

        yes it will be interestiing going forward now.

        As when they come out with their promised “property owners register” as part of the election promises, then we will then see who these rich ‘slumb-lord’ pricks actually are that do own “many multiple houses” eh?

        Bet some will be national MP’s as wel, thats if they are ot among the ‘record auckland homes now going onto the market this week the media claimed record homes have gone up for sale this week.

  3. BM 3

    The Government will run a consultation process over the next 18 months to ensure that tenants, landlords, public health and building science experts and industry representatives have an opportunity to get involved in creating robust minimum standards” Mr Twyford says.

    I doubt you’ll see any improvement to NZ ‘s rental stock for at least 5 years.

    18 months for “consultation”, why?

    12 months to put it all together.

    2 -3 year time frame for rentals to be brought up to scratch.

    I can’t believe how painfully slow it is to get anything done in NZ.

    • Muttonbird 3.1

      You can blame the culture of amateur landlordism for that. The explosion of so called mum&dad investors has resulted in a whole lot of people who don’t care one jot about providing the service which they claim to be providing. They are all in it for the capital gain and nothing else – especially low on their list is welfare of tenants.

      • RedLogix 3.1.1

        Actually no. Most of the amateur mums and dads are critically dependent on a high occupancy rate to sustain their cash flow and are pretty motivated to provide sufficient service to keep their tenants.

        And good service means different things to different people; we have one long-term tenant who’s an appalling slob, he’s pretty much trashed a property we put a lot of effort into. But he pays the rent and we allow him to keep two dogs. He’s happy, we get paid reliably and it works. Not ideal, but in this case we prefer the devil we know.

        And in case you hadn’t noticed, the capital gain isn’t worth anything (except to borrow against) until the day I sell it. At that point I’m no longer a landlord, and you’re looking for a new home to live in.

        • BM

          Bet he’s a nightmare of a neighbour.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Probably not actually. If he was RL would’ve been hearing about it and wouldn’t be happy to let him stay there.

            It would be interesting to get the neighbours input on this but not likely to happen.

        • Muttonbird

          So why has the government’s insulation subsidy been so poorly accessed by these apparently critically dependent amateurs? It’s law by July 2019 to be either to the 1978 standard already, or if not then to the 2008 standard.

          An average rental requiring insulation work costs around $3K and the government, thanks to the Greens, have offered 50% of this yet still there is a terrible uptake on the subsidy.

          You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know what’s going to happen closer to the deadline. You only need basic comprehension to recognise that the subsidy will be removed as the price goes up closer to the time and that the price most certainly will go up closer to the time as demand skyrockets.

          Why then do these mum&dad investors seem so unwilling to not only do the right thing for their precious tenants, but to save themselves thousands of dollars?

          Is it just a case of differing opinions on good service?

        • Muttonbird

          On your other point, you cast off the ability to borrow against a gain in equity as if it is nothing. I’d say it is a very powerful tool to have compared to a tenant with no assets.

          You seem to equate tenants and landlords as equivalent shareholders but I’d say there is a significant power imbalance in current New Zealand which you and most other advocates for amateur landlordism overlook.

    • Come on BM,

      As a tory you know full well that’s what National always did it, as they go gradual into everything.

      “slowly slowly catchie monkey.”

  4. RedLogix 4

    Tenants may not always be aware that if they’re paying say $400pw for a 3 bed home in a middle of the road suburb, and that property has a market value of say $650k … that if they tried to own that same home with say 20% equity … they’d be paying close to $600 pw in mortgage, rates, insurance and maintenance. (Just rough figures.)

    The only reason why they can live in that home for 2/3rd the cost of someone who owned it is that effectively they’re getting the use of the landlord’s equity for free.

    The majority of landlords in this country are other ordinary working people who’d come into a bit of property later in life, either through family, or just plain hard work and savings. Most are not hugely cash flow positive especially in the first few decades of the property ownership while there is a mortgage to pay. It would not be unusual to return less than $10k of cash profit on a total asset close to a $1m or so. It’s only when any mortgage is paid down that the business becomes profitable in the normal sense.

    Now every landlord is in a different fiscal position, so I’m forced to generalise here, but the idea that the greedy bastard pockets all your rent and spends it on lattes and smashed avo’s every week isn’t an accurate reflection of reality for most. Many have a fairly tight cash flow position.

    So while I have been generally very supportive of the need improve minimum standards and reduce risks for both tenants and landlords … I think it’s reasonable to expect some reaction to just pushing more onus onto landlords. Rents will quite likely go up and we will see landlords looking for more protection from rogue tenants who cause damage or loss.

    • Carolyn_Nth 4.1

      There should be rent caps.

      If landlords cannot afford to keep rentals at a basic standard, they are in the wrong business.

      There needs to be more state housing.

      • Kay 4.1.1


      • RedLogix 4.1.2

        Absolutely. And I’m assuming you’d also argue for caps on house prices, rates, insurance and mortgage rates at the same time? But not I assume on your income.

        Of course if you really want your landlord to sell up because ‘they’re in the wrong business’, I’m interested to know where you plan to live? If you think that all those houses being dumped on the market will depress prices and you can snap up a bargain to live in … think again.

        If you do succeed in buying that $650k home I mentioned above for say $500k with 20% equity (that’s a $100k of your own cash as a deposit)… what do you think might happen say a year later more bastard landlords sell up and your nice new home is now only worth $400k? No-one but no-one actually wants to buy in a falling market for just this reason.

        Also yes, more state housing please. There will always be tenants who really cannot afford to rent in the private sector, or cause such damage and loss, landlords really would prefer they went elsewhere.

        Emphatically I’m not trying to dodge the core issue here; the total housing market in NZ has many very real problems, with many moving parts and causes. And both tenants and landlords face very real issues as part of that story.

        • tracey

          How do you think standard of housing can be improved with this kind of measure. We know no regulation mean some landlords treat the property as nothing more than a people kennel before they take the capital gain?

          Tenants wont invest in improvements themselves because they have no long term tenancy security.

          • RedLogix

            The residential residency business and property speculation are two different things; although because they both involve real property they often get entangled. The analogy that comes to mind is the difference between trampers and hunters; they’re both superficially doing something similar, but with quite different motives and outcomes.

            My point is, yes NZ has a terrible problem with property speculation. But the mechanisms to solve that problem are quite different to the ones needed to improve professionalism in the rental business.

            And yes it’s desirable to give tenants much improved security (remember this was a core policy of the much derided TOP party?) … but at the same time such legislation must also give landlords more security of income and reduce their risks as well.

            • Ad

              The five-year Bright Line test is going to flatten prices in New Zealand anyway.

              There won’t be any more speculators as everyone will have to buy-and-hold investors.

              Landlords are not entitled to income security. The security they have had for multiple decades is a guarantee that if they sell, they make a killing.

              If this government does anything at all for New Zealand, it will tilt our entire investment economy away from rental investment and towards investing in local business.

              • RedLogix

                Landlords are not entitled to income security.

                In which case what’s your argument for security of tenure?

                If you go to a dentist and expect professional, quality, safe service, surely the dentist isn’t going to be impressed if you regard paying him/her as optional?

                The security they have had for multiple decades is a guarantee that if they sell, they make a killing.

                That was actually the banks security. And an argument that applies to all homeowners, not just landlords.

                But as I said above; providing residential tenancies and speculating on house prices are actually two different things, and constantly entangling them isn’t all that helpful.

                • In which case what’s your argument for security of tenure?

                  Housing is a human right.

                  If you go to a dentist and expect professional, quality, safe service, surely the dentist isn’t going to be impressed if you regard paying him/her as optional?

                  I’m all for making dentistry part of the healthcare system with the dentists paid by the government.

                • Ad

                  All you are pointing out is a market failure., which must be regulated.

                  This government is ensuring that there is much stronger regulation on quality.

                  There is going to be much stronger regulation on tenant tenure as well. Because it is needed.

                  The market is grossly under-regulated. as any cursory glace of our public health stats will show.

                  The risks that property investors take with banks are their concern to calculate, not those of the public. Those on merely interest-only loans are already an endangered species.

                  And in case you are saying that those risks will be passed on in rents, the strongest responses to that is twofold:
                  1. Kiwibuild must flood the market to make it cheaper for New Zeanders to take away the control that landlords think they have through rent price.
                  2. The Commerce Commission awaits anyone considering “benchmarking” or otherwise colluding on this.

                  The objective is not to enable more landlords to enable greater security, but to enable more home owners to own their own homes.

                  Lots of landlords are going to have to make this mental adjustment.

                  • RedLogix

                    I find it odd, on one hand I’ve some people here arguing for better landlords, and others arguing we’re all greedy bastards who should be driven out of business. Hard to answer to both, except for this … I’ve always maintained that providing residential rental housing was a legitimate business that provided an essential service to most people at some stage of their life.

                    It’s rare for anyone to leave their parent’s home and move straight into one they own themselves. Somewhere in between they’re almost certainly going to rent. And if they do plan on buying a home at some point in the future they’re likely to have skills and income that would preclude them qualifying for social housing.

                    So renting it is, and us bastard landlords are the providers of that service. Essentially we leverage some of the equity we’ve built up over a lifetime, to provide a a service to those who don’t yet (or maybe never want to) have it. And along the way make a modest profit from the not inconsiderable risk and effort involved.

                    It’s not a perfect model, but it’s the one we have.

                    As for Kiwibuild flooding the market, I’m less certain. Certainly it’s worth doing, but the idea we can build our way out of the current imbalance between supply and demand isn’t necessarily right. There are bigger forces at work.

                    • I’ve always maintained that providing residential rental housing was a legitimate business that provided an essential service to most people at some stage of their life.

                      Actually, indications are that it’s not a legitimate business because of its propensity to bring about a rentier and speculative economy that inevitably collapses causing major problems for the majority of people.

                      So renting it is, and us bastard landlords are the providers of that service. Essentially we leverage some of the equity we’ve built up over a lifetime…

                      The problem being, as Piketty pointed out, that such accumulation happens over more than one generation resulting in the massive inequality that we see today as a few people live like kings on the backs of everyone else.

                      It’s not a perfect model, but it’s the one we have.

                      And the one that we need to get rid of because it simply isn’t working.

                    • RedLogix

                      That’s fine Draco, I’m not arguing the current system is the only possible model, but until houses are available in unlimited numbers, wherever people want to live, and for free … they will remain a relatively scarce resource that will need some form of market mechanism to allocate them.

                    • I’m not arguing the current system is the only possible model, but until houses are available in unlimited numbers,

                      A strawman argument.

                      …they will remain a relatively scarce resource that will need some form of market mechanism to allocate them.

                      The market isn’t working and we can always ensure that there’s a 1 to 2% over-supply of housing where it’s demanded simply by telling HNZ to do so. They’d have the actual demand statistics available to ensure that it work as well which is something that ‘the market’ doesn’t actually have.

                    • RedLogix

                      and we can always ensure that there’s a 1 to 2% over-supply of housing where it’s demanded simply by telling HNZ to do so.

                      Good oh … what happens when everyone ‘demands’ to live in say Epsom? Or Devonport if you like to be near the beach.

                      The era of being having large amounts of desirable land to expand our cities into is over; that unusual period when the mass availability of cars and motorway expansion allowed our bigger cities to expand into new suburbs with relative ease and low cost is past.

                      Now all our choices are a lot more expensive and involve a lot more infrastructure. As I said before, I’m a tad skeptical that just trying to build our way out of this, is the only answer. Other stuff needs to happen as well.

            • tracey

              Genuine question. How does a landlord rent as a business in a place like Auckland without looking to the capital gain? By having cash to buy property outright? How many are in that position?

              • RedLogix

                A good question. Short answer, certainly not the likes of me. I’ve never been more than 60% leveraged. I’m probably more conservative than many.

                But I’d guess that most new landlords in the past decade have either been cashed up overseas buyers, or a relatively small number of New Zealanders also looking for somewhere to park cash for capital gain. Your classic ‘mum and dad’ looking to run an actual rental business … less so.

                Oddly enough I loath these ridiculously over-valued houses (or more accurately the land they sit on) … it hasn’t helped me one iota.

                • Tracey

                  Thanks RL. The land prices in Auckland are crazy personofied

                  • Sabine

                    come to my place in the dark woods and shake your head in disbelieve.
                    800 sqm round a bout – a school, a four square and a part time doctors clinic, a ‘cafe’ that opens on weekends – over a hundred grand.

                    So who buys? People with jet skis and boats. Many many rows of empty houses and full boat sheds. The locals however start living 30 to a house or move into cars.

                    Everyone is trying to cashing in, i guess as no one really has a job, and those that do have not seen a pay rise in 30 years. But i guess no one is entitled to a pay rise, right?

        • cleangreen

          Yep rent caps tied to the cost of Auckland rates, as we are ‘all around NZ’ paying 70% public taxes to build all of those Auckland “infrustructure planned 30yrs of
          improvements” that we have been subjected to over the least 9yrs and will be for the next 20yrs by the sound of it.

    • Kay 4.2

      RL, surely then, another reason that NZ desperately needs to change the investment mindset in NZ? Leaving out those who inherit a house and maybe want to try renting it out, those who make the decision to take out a mortgage on an investment rental knowing full well the long term implications and grizzle whenever upgrades to said property is needed (routine/emergency/legal) and “adjust” the rent accordingly because they haven’t written it into their business plans. I just don’t understand why so many people still think rental property is the way to go.

      I don’t pretend for one moment to be very clued up, but I get the idea that apart from tradition, there aren’t too many great investment alternatives in NZ? Happy to be enlightened.

      From a permanent tenants perspective in a rather cold city I’m very pleased to hear this news. My flat has already been assessed a few months ago (limited what can be physically done because of it’s age and design) but even finally getting some insulation in the ceiling a few years back made all the difference with heating in winter. So it’s a really big deal, and I hope that for the most we’re not going to be punished via rents.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        The core problem you face is that too many landlords in NZ are relative amateurs. Here in Australia for example, almost ALL properties are managed by professionals who by and large do a good job.

        The business here is much more professional and better regulated. But the quid pro quo is that if you do want to rent, you’d better turn up with references, employer and income details, and be prepared to sign up to a 12 month fixed term lease the landlord WILL enforce.

        In general the entire business needs to lift it’s game, on both sides. I’ve strongly argued for higher standards and professionalism from landlords, but this won’t come for free.

        • Carolyn_Nth

          And that’s why you need more state houses.

          I’ve had mixed experiences with amateur landlords – nice people, but poor quality properties – leaky roofs, maintenance un attended to, or done at a low standard via DIY, etc.

          I now am in a place managed by estate agents – well managed, but the rental is high and keeps going up – just because they can – this is an effect of the property bubble.

          I can afford this place…. for now…..

          Others can’t. So that’s where public housing is needed. Many of the “social problems” come back to inequalities, poverty, and underfunded social services.

          • Kay

            Same here Carolyn, re the rent. But it’s the taxpayer who has to foot the bill with even more accommodation supplement and TAS every time the rent goes up. Which wasn’t actually an issue until a property manager got involved… I’m certain property managers are the main reason rents have skyrocketed in NZ, so they can take their cut. I have no idea a)how much more rent WINZ will deem acceptable before they insist I find somewhere cheaper (impossible where I live now) or b) even if I’ll end up losing this place first in which case I’ll literally be homeless.

            When there’s no council housing (last time I looked the waiting list here was at least 300 and my disability isn’t even going to get me higher up the queue), and getting on the non-exisitent State Housing list can’t even happen until one is actually homeless, then what are the options?

            Yet for a sector of society, having to pay to provide basic standard fit for habitation housing seems to rile them up more than the idea that people are homeless in this country. And the consequences of that actually costs them way more via their taxes.

            • RedLogix

              Which wasn’t actually an issue until a property manager got involved

              Sighs. Exactly my own point; you want professionalism and improved standards, but imagine they’re going to come for free. Sorry.

              • Kay

                So like Carolyn says, the answer has to be public housing. There’s now more people than not who just can’t afford to rent privately. Housing is a right, it doesn’t have to be run as a for-profit business.

                • RedLogix

                  Absolutely agree with that. In the past I’ve argued the total housing market was historically divided up into roughly 40% homeowners, 20% renting in the private sector and the other 20% in social housing.

                  Crucially it’s worth understanding this is not a static picture. People move from one sector to another. In any given year about 2% of homeowners leave that sector (shuffling off this mortal coil, or being forced in bankrupcy are the main causes) and another 2% enter ownership.

                  Most of those 2% will be transitioning from the rental sector (or at least historically they used to. The numbers have declined badly in the past decade) and another 2% enter it as young adults leaving home, or immigrants. People rent for all sorts of good reasons, most because at that point in their life they’re not ready or able to own a home.

                  The point is residential tenancy should be a transition, a stage of life, not a permanent state. That’s isn’t a problem of landlords making, it’s something badly wrong with the entire market.

                  And there will always be another 20% or so who should be socially housed. I agree that a basic standard of housing is a right. These are the group of people who are never likely to qualify for a bank mortgage, for all manner of reasons both good and bad. The political problem here is that over the past few decades, governments have been getting out of housing provision and pushing onto the private sector; which has resulted in all the very real problem people are talking about here.

                  Yes there are good and bad landlords, as there are tenants. Working on that issue is useful, but the big problems are endemic to the entire housing market, not just landlords.

                  • Carolyn_Nth

                    The point is residential tenancy should be a transition, a stage of life, not a permanent state. That’s isn’t a problem of landlords making, it’s something badly wrong with the entire market.

                    Disagree. We should have the choice. I am a life time renter from choice.

                    And in past times, there was a significant minority that rented their entire lives.

                    The primacy given to property ownership as a way of life IS a big part of the problem.

                    • RedLogix

                      That’s fine it’s your prerogative to make whatever choices suit you. In other countries with different market settings, life time renting is a normal choice. I understand then why you want to improve your position; that’s realistic and reasonable.

                      At the same time you may have to accept that the same landlords whom you expect to provide you with a high standard of warm, dry and safe home to live in all your life with long-term security of tenure, may well have some reasonable expectations of their own in return.

                    • solkta

                      “In other countries with different market settings, life time renting is a normal choice.”

                      Different market settings AND laws.

                    • RedLogix


                      As I said, if you you want to head in the direction of say Germany where lifetime renting and stable property prices have been the norm, then please feel free to make that case.

                      But you can’t really argue for everyone being tenants, and at the same time argue all landlords are rentier bastards who should be put out of business.

                      You have to reach a balance which works for both parties; within the context of your wider market and regulatory settings.

                    • solkta


                      Just pointing out that the market was only half the thing. The problem we have here is that the Natz have been very keen to push people into lifetime renting but not to provide them with sufficient protections.

                  • tracey

                    Disagree. Part of the reason we are in the current predicament is the drive to own homes rather than rent. Other countries manage to have tenants for life BUT the rental yield works for the landlord. It doesnt in Auckland and Queenstown and increasingly Tauranga and and.

                  • savenz

                    With regard to overseas renting – Germany is often cited as being great for tenants rights.

                    What is never mentioned is that in Germany you rent a shell. You out fit your own Kitchen and at the beginning of the tenancy everything is photographed and you must return it to that state. AKA there is no wear and tear. You repaint everything, fill all the holes etc before you leave and remove the kitchen.

                    One reason NZ property is so run down in some parts is because of the wear and tear. The tenants don’t have to return the property back in the state it was rented in. So as things go on, it gets dirtier and more run down.

                    Also most tenants in NZ not only don’t have $10,000 handy to outfit a new kitchen each time and paint the place when they leave, but also our insecure jobs means that Kiwis are constantly on the move and this model is unlikely to work without radical work changes in NZ.

                    • RedLogix

                      Thanks for filling out those details about Germany. Now you mention them I seem to recall reading something similar ages ago.

                      But what you’re saying here lines up with my core argument, that if we do go down the path of giving tenants more security and long-term tenure (all desirable goals) we need to be aware our current tenancy models will need changing.

                      One aspect of interest this govt is also planning, is to reduce the list of items landlords are able to claim as expenses. I somehow doubt this will encourage more expenditure either.

                    • Sabine

                      The first thing that put me off of renting was the fact that i could not paint away the ‘shit brown’ wash and wear that was in every room.
                      I hated the carpets that were a hundred years old, but should you dare drop a glass of water you were expected to replace new and in full.
                      The curtains. Disgusting is to kind a word.
                      The ‘don’t dare hang a picture of your nana’ lest you want to be kicked out within two weeks notice.
                      The bathrooms from hell, moving toilets, slugs in the mornings, singing electricity, disgusting, old, moldy, rotten, and all that for a premium price.

                      Funny thing is, ‘renovating’ in Germany for tenants is a ‘volkssport’. The shops such as Mitre 10 do well, paint is cheap, so is carpet, wall paper and light fittings.

                      If, NZ were to ever bend their minds around to regulating rentals the ‘home renovator’ businesses would do well. Also, once you installed your kitchen, tiled your bathroom, painted your walls, wallpapered your rooms, fixed your lights, you tend to live in the same flat for about 10 – 15 years. That of course includes beautifying ‘balkonia’.

                      I will never in my life understand the mind set of the NZ landlord. In the twenty years that i rented, i had three landlords that I would consider good, one was Dutch, one was a Kiwi who lived in the UK and had a european mindset, and the last one lived in the neighboring property and was always available when something needed doing. The rest? Rubbish is too kind a word.

                    • RedLogix


                      Happy for our tenants to decorate the place if as they choose. But generally we expect the place to be returned in the same condition as they found it. Reasonable wear and tear is ok.

                      But having to fix or restore major DIY projects a tenant has done to whatever standard is not.

              • tracey

                Perhaps landlords fron now on will negotiate the cost of getting the house to standard as part of the sale. Putting the cost back on the vendor who is selling a substandard property? That doesnt account for those current landlords who bought substandard and ket it that way.

                It isnt about getting a good standard of home for free it is about redressing an appalling imbalance.

                Prior govts have been happy to pander to landlords of all levels as active voters. The last govt chose to do nothing to address the demand side of the supply and demand equation. It is a battle to be fought on multiple fronts.

                The 20b undisclosed hole left by Nats will seriously impact this govts ability to attack the problem on multiple fronts.

          • RedLogix


            Also we could cast the net a bit wider for solutions. Many other countries have different forms of ‘housing associations’ that allow groups of people to act in a collective fashion to provide their own housing. Most of these options are conspicuously absent in NZ.

            Plus if there was one Royal Commission I would really like to see; it’s one that would take a long hard look at why building costs per m2 in NZ are literally twice for the same (or often better quality) home in Australia.

            • tracey

              Is that not what the Nats were doing in a form… albeit misguided by simply transferring an existing stock to different management rather than creating additional stock?

            • cleangreen

              I Lived in Australia, Canada, USA, England, and my son lived in Germany.

              Some parts of Australia are as slack as NZ, Canada , England or USA in my expreience.

              I lived in Melborne, and in Western Australia, Toronto, Kentuky and Florida
              and in England London and West Country, (Somerset.)

              What my son saw in his 11yrs in Germany was that the neibours always gave his tenacy big problems by bossing him around when he did not shovel snow of the driveway or mow the lawn enough. – You get the message.

              Toronto was slack as, and mostly we need to do the painting and cleanups.

              USA was slack as the US idioloy was to leave you alone as a neibour, as they do believe in “live and let live” so we found lots of rentals were rough both in Frorida and Kentuky.

              Australia was interesting, as in one part of downtown Melbourne it was a bit rough with the landlord (Italian) lived down stairs with no sound insulation in the walls/floors so we had to be kept quiet.

              We rented out in north west ares of Melbourne where the suburban are was nicer and clean well kept so you are right there.

              Western Australia was different much like here in NZ with half done property improvements and no animals allowed. bare esentials there provided.

              So we think NZ is usual for the world but we would like to see the character of our way of life remain laid back at least during this ‘change’ folks.

    • solkta 4.3

      You have outlined the problem there, most landlords are not professionals. They do a really crappy job of providing a service. As the press release says we don’t allow that in other businesses.

      • RedLogix 4.3.1

        Sure. But keep in mind the kind of prices charged by highly regulated service providers like doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers …..

        Not saying this is a bad thing. But right now if your ‘amateur landlord’ was to decide to hand over your tenancy management to a professional service provider tomorrow … expect a 10% rent increase right there. And while many amateur landlords tend to forgo rent rises for long-term stable tenants; forget that if a professional is managing the tenancy.

        Overall I’m impressed this new legislation will prove a good thing in the long run. But don’t expect it to magically solve all tenancy problems overnight; there will be speed bumps.

        • solkta

          The last property i rented had a manager but the landlord still gave me a personal verbal commitment that he would not put the rent up even though he was doing considerable maintenance and improvement because i was a really good tenant.

          But generally speaking while landlords might want to increase rents the reality is that the extent to which they can be increased is determined by the market and not the costs on the landlord – most landlords are already renting there houses for the most they can get.

        • tracey

          Not all highly regulated sectors earn high incomes… counselling, social workers, forest workers and so on.

          This is about a minimum standard and maintence for humans to sleep and shelter. Maintenance is an area most NZ homeowners neglect not just landlords BUT homeowners live with the consequence of their own decisions, renters live with the consequences of their Landlord.

        • carlite

          What makes you think an amateur would be better at balancing the rent increase/vacancy rate equation than a professional? Particularly considering the professional’s entire income is dependent on maintaining high vacancy rates whereas the amateur (by definition) isn’t?

          • RedLogix

            Do you mean vacancy or occupancy rate?

            If you’re asking the question I think you are, I’d plump for the professional being more likely to get a better result overall. The good ones (and I agree they’re not all great) tend to have a ‘pool’ of pre-qualified tenants who usually work out really well. Often they don’t even have to advertise.

    • tracey 4.4

      All businesses have regulations. Those landlords, like you, who have ethics will have property in good order because they know their business is not a Kennel but for people.

      IF the unintended consequence is more ghost properties then further action is needed and it will be proof of a ridiculous and detrimental housing marjet which will need addressing.

    • Muttonbird 4.5

      Hang on a sec. The tenant also doesn’t get any gains from the property which they would if they owned it. If the tenant was to be paying rent to the value of your 80% mortgage then it would be the owner truely getting the free ride.

      • RedLogix 4.5.1

        Yes there are two ways to look at it; pay a lower rent and forgo any increase in equity, or pay the whole cost of owning the property and get to keep it. A simple trade-off really.

        Traditionally the idea was that a tenant should be saving the difference (between rent and owning costs) to save for a deposit on their own home in the longer run. And that’s the model which has broken down.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Traditionally the idea was that a tenant should be saving the difference (between rent and owning costs) to save for a deposit on their own home in the longer run. And that’s the model which has broken down.

          But it’s still a question of if that’s a viable model.

          Allowing ownership of multiple houses ensures that model will break down as we’ve seen it do so as people seek to become rentiers and speculators rather than wealth creators.

          Allowing only ownership of one house per ?? (per person, per family, per extended family, per business) will ensure that some people will petition the government to allow for more because some people will need to be renting. That will put us back to the first point because we can be certain that a government will, at some point, allow the extensions.

          The only way, as far as I can see, is to disallow private ownership of housing altogether. This would mean that housing would then become a government service that ensures that everyone has a place to live relevant to their circumstances. Gets rid of the speculation and rentiers and they’d make a huge song and dance about it but it should actually improve things quite considerably for the majority of people.

          • RedLogix

            I’ve long supported a bit of a halfway position; make all residential land lease-hold, with Local Govt as the landlord. Instead of paying rates, we pay rent on the land we occupy.

            For most people this would mean little difference in practice, indeed there is already a significant amount of such leasehold land in NZ … but crucially at the same time you prevent the banks from utilising the land value of a property as collateral for a mortgage. The occupier would have all the same rights over any improvements, but only they could be leveraged for a loan.

            In one simple stroke you’ve eliminated the single most potent form of asset speculation.

    • It’s only when any mortgage is paid down that the business becomes profitable in the normal sense.
      And who ends up paying for the mortgage? Because it isn’t the owners.

      And once those houses are free-hold with tenants in them then the cashflow’s likely to be quite good. At that point they’re nothing but rentiers bludging off of workers.

      • cleangreen 4.6.1

        Absolutely true there perfectly Draco.

        When we went back to Toronto in 1987 the home prices had gone up there as they had now in Auckland.

        We bought a semi-detached two storey home with basement and our deposit on the home was 10% down or $25K down then the morgage was $1700 dollars + power and rates totalled up at $2000 all up, (in 1987) a month.

        And my wife and I were both working full timr then and had two kids, and were forced to live in the basement and rent the rooms above out to survive there.

        Then in 1992 the ressession came and we couldnt find renters any more so the bank foreclosed.

        Listen to this please now as Aucklanders are going into where we have now been folks when the correction comes.

        We need to plan this smartly now so we all dont loose the homes or rentals as we did in Toronto when the squeeze comes again.

    • mauī 4.7

      Isn’t one answer for the Government to revalue all New Zealand homes to the median wage (I know would take some guts), so a standard 3-4 bedroom house would now be valued at $150,000 across the board. That makes housing affordable for the average kiwi and gives them loads more choice on what houses they can buy. It would reduce the killer mortgages and rents people have to pay, and they can then use their surplus money to invest in productive things like local businesses instead.

      Auckland is our prime example of when we turn housing into a version of trading on the stock market. It’s similar I guess to encouraging kiwis to buy shares and invest in weetbix and milk and then finding one day it costs $20 for a packet of weetbix at the supermarket and realising people need those items to actually live. It’s fricking stupid and so damaging.

      • RedLogix 4.7.1

        Steven Keen proposed something with a similar effect; historically the imputed rental value of a house was closely linked to wages; typically the value of a house was about 15 times it’s imputed annual rental value. So if it was rented for $200 pw then it’s market value was about the $150k you mention.

        His idea was to limit banks not by LVR ratio, but to the an amount which is 12 times (allowing for 20% minimum equity) the property’s annual imputed rental income.

        At the moment banks are lending well over 20 times the value, in Auckland it must be close to 30 times. His idea was to simply impose a ceiling gradually but introducing a limit of say 22 times this year, then dropping it gradually by 1 per year for a decade until we reached 12 times. Done in this manner it would be a bit painful for some, but not destabilising for the whole economy.

        Also you need to stop excess overseas capital flooding out the locals on local wages, but this has been discussed in depth elsewhere.

  5. Greg 5

    I think alot of investors will sell up they are over leveraged and that could be a good thing have a clean out of bad land Lords

  6. savenz 6

    Another example of a plan that looks great on paper and very reasonable but when applied within a practical situation will make things a lot worse for a lot of people. In fact many renters will be worse off for years and it will mean more homeless and more vulnerable families living in 1 room hotels.

    Not only that, it probably stopped many middle class voters voting for Labour and Greens, because nobody likes something that is not going to work and shows how out of touch politicians are with their lives that this was considered one of the most important policies to promote during the election when there are SO MANY things going wrong in this country for many.

    Approx 35% of people rent which means approx 65% do not and probably a large percentage of them have or have been a landlord and see a completely different side of P contamination, unpaid rents, destruction of property and so forth.

    Prior to National getting in, NZ did not have a massive homeless or rental crisis. It has been cultivated by National using immigration and a deflection campaign to blame landlords for the rising cost of houses and the rental shortage. Sadly most lefties have fallen for it and it’s cost Labour a lot of votes and allow National to keep winning and change the demographics significantly, especially in Auckland.

    When it looked like prices couldn’t get any higher, along came undemocratic unitary plan, to make sure the sugar kept rolling in for the Natz. Worse was that the Blue Greenies were some of the worst offenders badmounthing any dissent with the NIMBY phrase ensuring reasonable debate was never had about the real causes of the housing crisis.

    As soon as Labour admitted they thought immigration may be a factor, low and behold people started to vote for them.

    In short poor people can’t afford to live in Auckland anymore and this has been possible by National policy to help them keep winning elections. There are no cheap rentals, in fact little rentals available at all, state houses sold off or empty for renovation, land which could be used sold off to private developers who are making $600k ‘affordable’ houses or apartments with ongoing costs like body corporate fees, as slowly and using as much public money as they can.

    This means Labour and Green voters are not there anymore the way they used to be as the previous renters in the unhealthy draughty villas around central Auckland. (Now renovated into healthy, large expensive homes and NOT rented costing millions).

    The main problem in housing for renter’s is there is a shortage of housing and rents are too high compared with their incomes. Healthy homes does not address this and actually makes both situations worse.

    The healthy homes bill will make less houses available due to many being taken out of circulation as not being able to get up to the standard, being taken out to be renovated to get up to the standard and scaring off landlords who can easily sell to the many new ‘demand’ buyers there are around thanks to National’s immigration policies over the last 9 years.

    It will increase rents because it will decrease the amount of houses available for renting thus increasing rents and also because much of it will cost thousands (even if it is possible to do it). The next step will be to put in rent controls and more regulation and that will the the slippery slope as again it will discourage landlords as it is already not worth any one’s while to rent a property.

    House’s already do not make economic sense to rent them out due to the cost of houses in NZ, the cost of new houses to build, the amount of people needing homes to live in driving up prices and the demand for a higher standard of housing when renovated (200m2, 3 bed, 2 bathroom, garage, multiple living spaces etc). That is what new migrants and existing richer NZ’er and well heeled renters want and expect and programs like ‘The block’ and ‘my first home’ set the standard.

    I live in a beautiful house that does not pass the standard set out by the voluntary
    WOF. Many will not. It’s a paper policy which will have negative consequences and is an example of what has been going wrong with Labour and the Greens who need to think through their plans carefully and not believe everything they hear from ‘experts’ in MSM and rush off unpopular policy wondering why their middle class voters have turned off .

    • solkta 6.1

      Gosh, I wonder if this might be one of many policies to address the housing issues in NZ.

      • savenz 6.1.1

        Yes, by the fairy wand that will make draughty pre war houses, Marae’s built before year 2000 and leaky 1990 – 2000 houses, magically jump up to 21st century standard in an instant for zero dollars. At the same time the missing millions new builds appear (at affordable prices), all set by council bureaucrats – what could go wrong?

        • solkta

          You are right. So depressing. Let’s just not do anything.

          • RedLogix

            I think there are many things we need to look at. NZ’s housing problems are the result of many failures with many root causes. We can and should be doing something about all of them, not just selectively addressing what suits our ideological inclinations.

            Savenz is right though, about 2/3rd of NZ housing stock really needs remodeling with a D9 bulldozer. There ain’t no quick fix.

            • Ad

              Agree with that.
              Healthy Homes regulations should probably apply to private homes as well.

              • savenz

                Yes then we could all live under a bridge. Take the kids of their parents at the Marae because it’s not at western bureaucrat standards. Ban campsites.

                You do realise that generations lived in houses and bought up kids without insulation and shock horror I rented a place with an outdoor toilet and only one bathroom and the kitchen could not be considered a kitchen by today’s standards. sarc.

                I just don’t think the message of ‘healthy homes’ is as important as many well heeled MP’s and the under 30 year old’s think. Over 30 year olds were pretty happy in those unrenovated state houses and villas.

          • savenz

            I’m not saying that at all. This would be more useful for renters and landlords.

            License rental agents so that they have real obligations to the tenants and Landlords. Make them the same as real estate agents.

            Get a bunch of chemists to work out the cheapest way to get rid of P in a clean up and at the same time work out the standard for P that is reasonable. (Apparently money has more P on it than the P contaminated rentals standard).

            P has become a massive scam that scares both renters and landlords and is putting massive amounts (in particular affordable state houses) out of action. It has been suggested that just washing the walls of houses can be effective. If that was the case then the ‘P’ houses could be cleaned normally and returned back to circulation and landlords very reluctant to rent because of P contamination can have a way to clean up the houses without it costing tens of thousands in clean up and hundreds of thousands when the council put P on their LIM. If you could potentially lose hundreds of thousands – would you bother to rent?

            At present with P it is completely unregulated and full of scammers. Including people going around houses getting P tests right before a sale so that can buy it cheaply and then leaving it empty, renters getting tests but not knowing what they means or if they can even be relied on and so forth.

            Lead is also in a huge amount of NZ houses. There are few lead scams because it is so common that people know what to do. P has been allowed to turn into a crisis not just on the addiction side, but also anywhere they ever lived becomes out of circulation.

            I know both landlords and renters and this is what they are saying.

            Renter – I have had to move multiple times around central Auckland. Many houses may be contaminated by P and I have a child that I don’t want exposed to that. I used to have an inspection every 6 months now its so stressful because it’s every 3 months (insurance on P contamination now means 3 month inspections). I got a place through an agency but then it was withdrawn as P was found but they would not me the levels, I then had given notice and was left without a place to live.

            Renter – I can’t get a rental at all.

            Landlord – I’m selling it’s getting too much with all the regulation and P. The agencies are hopeless and a law to themselves, they don’t protect the property and the tenants are going on about P and warm dry houses all the time. When I renovate it, I’m going to sell.

            So far the Natz spent millions on ‘consultants’ and got nowhere with their state houses. The new government can can probably organise something in a few weeks and employ some people with Science degrees to get rid of P scams.

            Lets turn the empty P scam, into healthy homes in the first 100 days.

            • solkta

              Oh yes, except P. That is the only thing that can be improved. If the Natz would just agree to sort that we should let them be the government again.

              • savenz

                I’m not sure how may houses are vacant because of P. But if you can return 10,000 houses into circulation – that’s a lot and would make a huge difference.

                If you stop being ideological and having 18 month consultations etc etc with lobbyists who have their own agenda with housing, and just get practical you can achieve a lot more.

                A person doesn’t care where the house came from if they need a place to live. And if it’s able to be cheaply and quickly tested by a reliable standard and cleaned up last as fast, and not rely on private practise scamming, profiteering and fake facts, then it’s good.

    • tracey 6.2

      The crisis was absolutely developing under the last Labour govt.

      • RedLogix 6.2.1

        It goes right back to the early 90’s Nat govt as well; the whole shit show is the result of one bad decision, or lack of remedial action, after another for decades.

    • greywarshark 6.3

      Labour and Greens are often utopian – into ‘shoulds’ instead of looking at the best and most practicable solution that will start things moving in the right direction in whatever sector they are attempting improvements.

      I don’t know if this example will be understood as of value but I’ll put it up because it shows the triumph of middle class mores over valuing and offering choice to poorer people. I’ve quoted it before. A well spoken woman running an adult literacy group refused some useful cartoon and text books that I offered because ‘These people have never had anything new. We only use new books here.’ They were suitable, as I had experience in tutoring for this age group. But the decision was made by the person in charge on behalf of the group who were not allowed to make the decision for themselves.

      We know best, is often the starting point for Labour and the Greens. Perhaps that is so, but why not run discussion groups and draw out the opinions and thoughts of those they are helping. Help them with the same practices taught in business as to decision making so they can come to personally satisfactory decisions. In some cases Labour and Green may be hindering not helping, despite their best intentions.

    • tracey 6.4

      How you choose to live in your own home is up to you. How you choose to charge others to live is a different thing. Even if the rent does not “make” you money directly, it is allowing people to sit and wait for capital gain. By all means live in a cold, damp house by your choice but to inflict it on others as part of a long term plan for financial gain is not.

      You also suggest that people started voting for Labour once they decided immigration was a problem for housing. Can you post your evidence? I could as easily say that when labour started focusing on it back in the “chinese sounding names” days, the polls showed no movement toward Labour and in fact they dropped in the polls after that and before Ardern was made Leader.

      SO, what to do about it?

      Middle class voters are beginning to be priced out of markets too (or seeing their children priced out and they are unable to help as they too are highly committed to their own mortgage) btw and I suspect THAT is more of a sea change than anything, although I have no proof.

      Building more home sis only one part of the problem. Nats decided to only come at it from a supply side so they could not be seen to upsetting their voter bases retirement schemes (investment property + capital gain in family home). The solution for a market failure has to be to address BOTH supply and demand.

      There are always unintended consequences, to almost, if not all, policies. IF this new policy causes a monumental problem then it shows what arseholes many have been to their tenants by housing them in substandard and dangerous to health accomodation for their own enrichment. As a society we may need that particular wake up call about how we treat each other for money.

      Current policies allow the rentier classes to remain comfy in their pursuit of money at the expense of others. softly softly catchee monkey has been tried and it is effectively the same as doing nothing.

      So, let’s see how many landlords are really impacted by the changes. Let’s look at those numbers and if they are very high is that a reason to back off or a reason to feel vindicated? If the number is low, then great, right?

  7. savenz 7

    At the same time, start making houses with on the job training. If “the block” can do it with no experience, prisoners can makes houses in prison, polytech can do it.

    Have free training for the unemployed and underemployed, pay them to build houses under supervision and get them making affordable houses (terraces are good and if you look in the UK that forms a lot of their housing) and put them on council and government land. Get an architect to design the ‘new’ state houses. Don’t sell them, rent them.

    Use what we have, under and unemployed people to make the houses! Our wood to build the houses and our steel. We make the raw materials for houses. Stop exporting them out and then back and start using them locally.

    • solkta 7.1

      I wonder if the new government has a plan to train more people in the construction trades and to directly acquire more land, and to increase the number of State Houses.

      • tracey 7.1.1

        Remember due to Joyces lying there is a 20bn hole to make up

      • savenz 7.1.2

        I’m talking more hands on, homes for humanity style building, not a paper based polytech course… I think the new reliance and spread of bums on seats polytech for profit courses are part of the wider NZ problem of fake degrees and youth not fit for working.

        • solkta

          That sounded like such a good idea that i went to see if others may have thought of it:

          “Labour’s Dole for Apprenticeships policy will subsidise employers to take on around 4,000 young people for on the job training in fields including building and construction.”

          • savenz

            I’m not talking about employer subsidises “employers to take on around 4,000 young people” – thats not working because most builders are too busy and they don’t want to take on the young ones for many reasons including clash of work ethics and health and safety and compliance.

            I’m talking about a GOVERNMENT run scheme to build the houses – you know new jobs for people to train and build houses on mass.

            The seemed to be able to do it no problem with state houses 70 years ago.

            What’s changed?

            • solkta

              I think the biggest reason it is not working is that it hasn’t been implemented yet.

        • Tracey

          You know polytech courses build house dont you? Unitec builds quite a few a Semester. Not out of paper and they sell at very reasonable prices… if u can find land.

          • savenz

            Yes I know Polytech’s build houses but clearly that one’s not working out too well, judging by the slow pace of modern building and the constant cry’s of we need more skills. Maybe because polytech’s are more about profit now and budgets than skills and results and modern builders don’t want to do a course.

            An example is a building trainee who is a good worker but struggles with the course work because he has dyslexia and he hates going into the course.

            • tracey

              So, you start by saying that paper based paper training doesn’t work in polytech’s (which is an implication of classroom work only) and when challenged on that falsehood you complain they don’t build enough.

              Students with dyslexia are well catered for these days provided the person is in a public tertiary and they disclose the fact. Lots of trainees in trades hate coursework because of their leaning toward manual learning by doing. BUT we all have parts of our jobs or training that suck. Weathering that is part of building resilience and being prepared to adapt to what is a rapidly changing world, especially for those school leavers moving into work now. If your student doesn’t like paperwork I hope she is prepared to never move far beyond a labourer wage because paperwork, council inspections, plans, consents and many other parts of the job require reading/paper skills?

              If you think a Habitat for Humanity type thing is a a major part of the solution rather than other part solutions are then you are as mistaken. All of the pieces have to be put on the table. We had a leaky building crisis, we are in a post earhtquake crisis. Both of those are due (imo in main because no one will hold developers to account) but also because too many builders are vulnerable because they just know how to build and do not understand all the ways that developers will shaft them and leave them with 10 years personal liability. I am afraid that kind of learning will not happen on site but in a polytech.

              I agree our tertiary system has become fucked up under Joyce’s reign in particular and the notion that tertiaries must make money. BUT the answer is NOT wholly building site based learning because many of the people training other shave come through a time on zero ethics, undue pressure from the developer and no understanding of the regulations.

              Where we agree is that the situation is a mess. I also agree that nibbling at the edges is effectively retaining the status quo.

              I also wonder at how many people are going to be employed to enforce the new WOFs? Are they going to be like the worksafe inspectors who give notice that they are coming? In the case of house condition prior warning of a visit may suffice because the only way to get by at that point is to fix the house before the visit. As opposed to advance notice of employment inspections whereby an employer simply has the workers being exploited not rostered that day.

              Are the landlords going to be given a time limit to do the changes, a year? Or graduated depending on what aspect fails?

          • savenz

            With the land comes the cost of the consents, fees and infrastructure which will cost more than that unitech house – unless you are a wealthy developer doing it for profit – then you get corporate welfare.

            • tracey

              I only used that example because of your implication that a Polytech course is “paper” based learning. which produces nothing and we need more houses built.

              You say builders do not have time to train onsite, so where are all the workers for a MASS Government scheme going to come from? Work visas? And who is going to ensure those folks have the skills they claim?

  8. eco Maori 8

    Many thanks to our new coalition government for passing this Healthy homes law that will protect the health of the innocent and poor Ka pai

  9. Michael 9

    Two cheers. I understand there are significant loopholes in the law that facilitate exploitation of tenants by unscrupulous landlords irrespective of substantive improvements elsewhere in the statute. The fact most MPs are landlords is, of coure, purely coincidental.

  10. savenz 10

    This is an example of insulation statement now required (I think) not clear if it’s now or 2019 because if you start after 1 July 2016 then the 2019 rules apply. Anyway does not look easy. Imagine having to do this on 20 different standards under healthy homes….

    All the government had to do was to put in ceiling and floor insulation to x standard by x date, but no, when bureaucrats get involved you get this…

  11. savenz 11

    This is guide line on Meth – basically testing for P can not be taken without tenant’s permission and if they have Meth clothes and possessions then you are in breach if you test them. I guess if you then get cross contamination from the meth clothes and possessions then it’s the landlords problem to clean up. Then you need to test between tenancies and get legal advice. I guess this won’t be driving up rents and making landlords reluctant to rent properties out…

    “Current tenancy agreement
    Where there is a current tenancy agreement in place and there is no agreement as to how meth testing is to be undertaken, Landlords are advised to seek the permission of the Tenant to undertake any form of testing on the premises.

    If the Tenant agrees it is important to remember that the premises only can be tested. This permission does not extend to any of the Tenant/s personal belongings or effects.

    If the Tenant does not agree, the Landlord should consider not proceeding with the testing as there is a risk that this sort of interference may be considered a breach of the Tenant’s right to the quiet enjoyment of the premises. Such a breach can be an unlawful act under the Residential Tenancies Act and can attract a financial penalty of up to $2000.

    Tenancy Services accepts that this may prove problematic in proving who has caused damage to the premises where the premises has not been tested between tenancies or at the start of the tenancy. Landlords are again directed to seek their own independent legal advice on this matter.”

    You then need to meet this standard developed by a committee of 21 members… sounds like a piece of cake for the average landlord. sarc.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      While I agree there is probably a large element of over-hyped scam around meth testing … the very real risk of a druggie totally buggering up one of our properties is probably the main benefit of moving to professional management a few years back when we moved to Aus.

      Without regular property inspections our insurance company (who in every other respect have been excellent) wouldn’t touch us.

      But yes I know a LOT of landlords really do worry about this. The costs and consequences are grossly disproportionate to the rental income.

      • savenz 11.1.1

        Yes but I have an elderly relative who rents out property through agents. He has had a lot of issues with the agents themselves (a well know firm) who are unprofessional, and constantly taking out fees, letting in poor tenants etc. The agents are constantly changing and he was trying to take them to court over damage to his property, but gave up – he’s too old and the legal fees too high.

        There needs to be proper licensing of rental agents like real estate agents. They need to be more professional. The elderly relative is pretty doddery and keeps his very nice properties in Auckland under rented and being taken to the cleaners by the agents themselves.

        So far as well as all the damage and fees, he’s paying $400 for installation of smoke alarms and a yearly fee of $600 to check them. Then he’s getting the agency to put in insulation which no doubt will be thousands and a lot of mark ups. I doubt he’ll make it through healthy homes before selling up. More rentals gone.

        Regulation of the agents should be made if renting is to be cleaned up. This benefits the tenants too – if you are allowed into somebodies home and have keys to it, there needs to be better standards and the agents themselves personally liable for poor behaviour, rips offs and negligence and not the end owner.

        • solkta

          “More rentals gone.”

          Surely he will sell the houses rather than demolition them?

          • tracey

            I agree. This will sound callous to some I am sure, but if this man is too old to manage his business, then should he not consider winding up his business? That is what happens in other businesses?

            If a business cannot afford to pursue legal avenues (and god knows most cannot, and most individuals cannot too), then if that makes the business unprofitable or too risky, then consider selling out?

            I am NOT anti regulation. I have lived long enough to see what happens when industries are left to self regulate. A very large bill appears at some point for the taxpayer to clean up the mess.

        • tracey

          Proper licensing? But the paperwork? And the fees passed on to tenants?

          Why should landlords be free of liability just because they appointed an agent? National effectively had an agent to buy that piece of music, but they also have liability for any error (and the right to sue the agent I am surprised that you say they have no liability now, or do you just mean personal agent liability? There is a contract so an action definitely lies against the agency for negligence etc. Personal liability of agents could have the unintended consequence of making people choose not to be an agent?

          We keep moving to make the lowest member in the chain personally liable, a builder, you say the agent going to the house. Until we sheet personal liability to the profit takers this is pissing in the wind. And we wont sheet it to the profit taker. Developers were conspicuously let off but builders well and truly on the hook.

          I had a leaky home. I even “won” my case but was over $135,000 out of pocket from legal, building expert and other fees, so I do know about the problems of not being able to afford to sue people (like your elderly relative)., it is also why I began giving pro bono advice to leaky home owners (and builders) caught up in the debacle.

          To be clear I have been mortified by the liability sheeted to most builders in the leaky Home debacle and suspect it will continue post earthquake Christchurch. 80% liability to a builder, 20% to Council is a joke. Builders get the box of pieces and of the puzzle and a picture on the box and they build to regulated plans and a consent. 80% liability? Architects who have degrees and charge over $200 an hour get NO liability for plans that were not fit for purpose but the builder on $25 an hour in 2002 gets hit with 80%?

          I have salso been involved in trying to get new technology adopted int eh building industry which would have removed HUGE cost to owners to investigate their buildings, and huge cost in expert evidence disputes. BUT the industry (of building surveyors) used their collective might (I am looking at you Prendos) to preserve their gravy train. I was dumbfounded by the lack of intelligence amongst many who could not see that this technology merely identified the areas of rot it still needed experts to come in and analyse the results and ascertain how to fix it. The ridiculous accusations made against the inventer… I even sat in a meeting with the Head of the Weathertight Tribunal and the the head of Weathertight Services where we demonstrated the technology, the data and the analysis and the Tirbunal Chair stated that she couldn’t understand why this wasn’t being used due to its evidence base. A former High Court Judge also put his weight behind it… but you know, in the end I think they weight of Council and Govt stopped that technology in its tracks? Why? Cos at $1500 per house it would reveal the extent of the problem (rot ) and neither Council (Auckland) nor Government (once there was the FAP) wanted more homes found before the 10 years expired.

          Lawyers get shit for what they charge and sometimes how they behave, and rightly so, but the Building Industry? Holy shit that is one fucked up place.

      • tracey 11.1.2

        I agree the meth thing has gone to overkill and provided another gravy train for “experts” in the building industry (something the industry is very good at)

    • tracey 11.2

      Perhaps part of our problem has been that the average landlord is too far below average? That it has been too easy to become a landlord by simply being able to raise the funding from the bank to buy a house?

      If you think the paperwork will be easier under your suggestion of a mass govt building scheme you are joking… but presumably it doesn’t bother you provided me and other selected taxpayers foot the bill for those int he rentier classes negligence and greed?

  12. Yes savenz

    I was rised in a non insulated home during the 1950’s and in England my wife was raised in a concrete walled non insulated home, and we are now 73and 71 and both are not hopsitalised so insuationn is not the big deal the food heating and lack of chemicals is the most impoportant issue that saved us and will save everyone.

    You see in Toronto where it is truly an artic climate they got all worked up when I was therre in 1072 as they were orderinng all homes to be insulated and they flew spotter planes agound the city to find homes that leaked our heating in winter so if folks alloowed heat to escape they couuld get finded.

    So then they built all new homes and ‘apppartment towers up to 22 stories high with seal windows to trap in the heating.

    By 1976 Toronto and the other cities were fining residents were becomming ill with strange symptoms like “cronic fatigue syndrome’ and otther sysptoms.

    A health department study began and after several years the trem “sick building syndrome” came out.

    The buildig designers and medical teams found that the lack of indoor fresh air was making all people sick so they began replacing the seal windows with opening windows again.

    Ontario health and Health canada did very extensive air quality samoppling inside these homes appartments. and office towers in ntornto Ottawaw, monteal and other provinces and found that if you seal a home and dont allow for some “natural flow of air” through these environments the clemcal pollution buildup within these sealed building increases to five times that of the outdoor air.

    That is what my wife and I who nare over 70 have no serious health problems today as we leave a wimndow slightly ajar in every room to circulate out any buildup of indoor pollutants.

    Since I too was ‘chemically poisoned’ in that city while working inside one of those fully sealed buildings then without air (HVAC) system working then for six months; I can advise you it is not wise to seal buildings even when you have a “central air heating system” as we all had those in our homes also in Toronto and most got sick with them, so outdoor air is cleaner than indoor air remember please.

    In our case in Napier, I need to make an exception here, as anyone who is living alongside a busy ‘truck road’ has bad outdoor air too, as we all in Napier do with the “highway from hell” the “HB Expressway” is a bad place to be being a toxic air location to live near, and this is confirmed in this report; entitled as “HB Expressway Noise and air quaility issues” 2005.

    • tracey 12.1

      Hmmmm I am not sure you are comparing apples with apples cleangreen? In my experience english homes are incredibly costly to heat and heat them they do. We are more a “put on another jersey” kind of nation. Concrete walls are a form of insulation that weatherboard is not.

      I do agree that houses getting wet is not as much of a problem as houses not being able to dry out. Insulation has to be properly used as part of a design. Many of the old weatherboard homes in Auckland are now insulated top, sides and bottom which will be trapping moisture and if they think those homes won’t start rotting they are in for a surprise. Auckland also has year round humidity so houses that cannot dry out are problematic. I know when my home (built in late 2001) was found out to be leaky there was some smugness from my villa and bungalow owning friends. However all of them have now insulated those weatherboard homes like a tight drum… The beauty of those homes was the “draught” or airflow which allowed the wood to dry out. Not now.

      I also think my generation and younger have become less house maintenance minded and think that a new house is low maintenance. At least if you live in an apartment of townhouse complex you have BC fees set aside for long term maintenance ( a reasonably recent law change) in my experience homeowners are nowhere near as forward planning. I saw an estimate a few years ago that a homeowner should be setting aside 3-5000 per annum as a sinking fund for future maintenance. Guess how many do? BUT, to come full circle, if I choose to run down my home and use the money elsewhere leading to poor quality of life for me in that home, that is my choose. To do so for others to live there while taking an enrichment from it (either by way of yield or capital gain) is not.

  13. DH 13

    This strikes me as one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ scenarios. It’s all very well to have good intentions, the consequences also need to considered.

    IMO this is another of those laws which catches the few ratbags with blanket coverage that traps everyone in its net and the authors don’t give a shit about anyone except their own egos.

    I own a house that I use as my bolthole. It’s empty most of the time and while I can’t rent it out permanently I was keen on offering it as temporary or emergency housing for interested parties under specific circumstances. The plain fact is I can’t do that because my liability is too great. The house is perfectly livable, even has insulation, but the cost of making it legally sound for use as emergency housing completely prevents it from happening.

    This country’s strength has always been its community attitude; we look out for each other. These intrusive laws are ripping big tears in our social fabric and IMO it’s such a shame they’re coming from parties on the left. Professional landlords sure as hell aren’t going to give anything away for free so why are we pandering to them?

  14. Tanz 14

    This legislation will cause rents to rise and even more of a rental crisis than we already have, Wellington included. Landlords will get even richer out of this and tenants will have even less money left over after paying sky-high prices. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.

  15. Sparky 15

    How is this to be policed and what does it mean for landlords? Yet another case of “buck passing” where landlords are asked to fork out yet more $$? I wonder what this will mean for rents and rental property availability?

    Unless this is managed well and grants are fair and generous the housing crisis will simply become more acute as landlords decide to up rents, sell up or simply close up properties and leave them vacant (Canada style) cashing in on capital gain.

    Another case of punishing everyone for the excesses of a minority?

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