New rules proposed to bring rental homes up to adequate health standards
6th of September, 2018
It is good to see the new government continuing on with the gradual but long-overdue upgrade of NZ's rental stock. Unlike the, "do-it-all-at-once" mentality of the 'doomed-to-fail' 29 point Warrant of Fitness out of Otago University, these obvious measures should eventually bring a minimum standard of accommodation to renters. However what is glaringly obvious, to anyone with landlording experience, is that there are major holes in this regime that haven't yet been thought of. Firstly, landlords will have no trouble providing heaters for each room, as they are not a costly item compared to most, however, experience tells us, we then need to get the tenant to pay for the use of them. Many choose to keep them off because of cost.This is not healthy, but hardly the fault of the landlord. Secondly, it is all very well to ensure that there are opening windows in bathrooms, etc, ( in fact, in 30 years I haven't seen many that don't have opening windows,) the trick is to ensure that the tenants actually open them.Thirdly, mould and mildew, in our experience is 50% tenant fault for not opening windows and/or curtains, cramming beds up against curtains/windows that are dripping with condensation because they are not ventilating overnight.
The point is, it is all very well to blame landlords for not providing these things, ( when most do,) because even when provided, the poor house keeping habits of some tenants would turn the best, ( and even newest,) of premises into a sweat-box. Some come from climates of 30+ degrees and try to replicate that temperature by not opening windows, cranking the heater up, jamming too many occupants in, not ventilating and then they cry foul when mould starts to form on their bathroom and bedroom ceilings. We even heard of some tenants who cook with portable gas burners in the middle of the lounge, (i.e. 1 litre of gas creates 1 litre of water in the air.)
Along with these requirements for landlords, which will be subject to fines of $4000, there should also be an enforceable Code of Conduct for tenants to adhere to once these items are provided, otherwise there will still be articles about the poor conditions some tenants live in, albeit from their own fault.
(PS. I've found over the years that one of the best ways to ensure that the house/unit gets ventilated is to put in a very strong extractor fan in the bathroom that cannot be switched off, (after the light is turned on,) for 7-10 minutes after the light is switched off. It is needed more in the Winter when the light is used more often. It takes air from throughout the home, ( when the bathroom door opens,) and replaces it with fresh air coming in through cracks etc.)
We can stomach Mr Twyford's 'anti-landlord' approach but eyes also need to be open to tenant responsibility as well, or this will not achieve the results that it could otherwise achieve.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford has revealed new minimum health standard proposals for rental properties.