Mayor welcomes first moves to improve rental housing

10 July 2015

People living in sub-standard houses will benefit from new requirements for insulation and smoke alarms in rental accommodation, says Wellington Mayor Celia-Wade Brown who welcomed the move as a positive step forward.

Government has announced the Residential Tenancies Act will be strengthened to make rental homes warmer, drier and safer with new regulations to take effect next year making it compulsory for landlords to insulate their properties and provide smoke alarms.

“We have long advocated for improvements in the legislation to require landlords to improve rental properties in Wellington and across the country,” she says.

 “There are strong links between housing quality and health,” she says. “Insulation will improve the health of tenants and reduce the incidence of respiratory problem, particularly among children forced to live in damp and cold houses.”

Mayor Wade-Brown says 37 per cent of the Wellington population live in rental, accommodation.

“Insulation and smoke alarms are important, however, cold weather reminds us some form of heating should be included. Government funding for insulation subsidies must expand to ensure all properties are also warm and dry by 2019.”

Wellington City Council recently worked with Victoria University to improve student accommodation including insulation. Through The Sustainability Trust and the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme, Wellington City Council helped insulate more than 260 private homes last year as well as its own social housing.”

The Minister of Building and Construction, Dr Nick Smith, is saying there will be tougher enforcement of existing regulations covering leaky roofs, insecure doors, excessive dampness and unsafe wiring.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester says the Minister has listened to the concerns of the community and provided a starting point that will begin to improve living standards for tenants.

“Our council has pushed hard for new regulations to ensure landlords provide rental housing that is warm, dry and safe particularly for children, students and older people,” he says.

Wellington City was a partner in a national ’warrant of fitness’ trial with four other councils, the New Zealand Green Building Council and the University of Otago in Wellington.

The new requirements for insulation will apply from July next year for social housing  and from 1 July 2019 for other rental housing. Smoke Alarms will be required from July next year.