• Healthy Homes Bill passed into law, new Government insists it won’t drive up rental prices

    The new Labour-led Government maintains that the passing of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act won’t increase rent prices across New Zealand.

    The Bill requires minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation and drainage in rental homes.

    It passed its third and final reading in parliament last night 63-57 with Labour, NZ First and the Greens all supporting the Bill.

    “We think between $3000 and $5000 (is what it will cost landlords), if you have to insulate from scratch and put in a heat pump. But we’re going to be providing grants of up to $2000 per property to assist with that,” Housing Minster Phil Twyford said.

    Twyford said that the new law will be a major boost for thousands of New Zealanders who live in poor rental properties.

    “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,” Mr Twyford said.

    “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.”

    The new standards still have sometime before being established.

    “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,” Twyford said.

    National and Act voted against the Bill, with the former claiming the legislation was pointless because insulation standards were already in place.

    “This Bill does diddly-squat,” former Housing Minister Nick Smith said. “It’s as shallow as a bird bath.”