Phil Twyford: Making our rental homes warm, dry and healthy

Opinion 19/02/2019
Photo: Supplied.

By Phil Twyford, Minister of Housing and Urban Development

OPINION: Renting is now a long-term reality for many Kiwi families.

In fact, over one-third of New Zealanders now rent their home. However, many rental homes are cold, damp, and mouldy.

Approximately 200,000 families live in rental homes that do not have ceiling or under floor insulation. Poor living conditions contribute to a range of health issues including respiratory conditions, toxic reactions and allergies.

Such illnesses can affect people’s jobs because they have to take more sick days, and affect children’s education because they are off school more.

According to the Ministry of Health, 6,000 children are admitted to hospital each year because of illnesses related to unhealthy living conditions.

We cannot continue to accept this.

One of our three key priorities as a Government is to improve the long-term wellbeing of all New Zealanders and their families. That means ensuring every family has a warm, dry and secure place to live.

It’s why, in December 2017, we passed the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act. The Act allows health-related standards for rental homes. These standards will mean all rentals will be warm and dry with proper heating, insulation, ventilation, and drainage.

These standards can also improve the energy efficiency of homes, and reduce maintenance costs – which will benefit both tenants and landlords.

Most importantly, they will keep our kids healthy.

Our Government has been consulting on the draft standards and will be releasing the final Healthy Homes Standards shortly.

The Healthy Homes Standards are part of our Government’s commitment to make life better for renters.

We’re also reforming our outdated tenancy laws to strike the right balance between providing tenants with security, allowing them to make their house a home, while also protecting the rights and interests of landlords.

We’re making rental homes healthy and improving life for renters – it’s just the right thing to do.

Labour MP Phil Twyford is Minister of Housing and Urban Development.