Our response to new government rental homes standards

24 February 2019

Responding to today’s government announcement about the healthy homes standards, intended to raise the all-too-often poor quality of New Zealand’s rental homes, Andrew Eagles, head of the Green Building Council, said:

“Far, far too many New Zealanders live in homes that just aren’t good enough, that are unhealthy. Too many of our children are ending up in hospital due to terrible, unacceptable housing.

“Everyone who wants to fix this, and help make our homes healthy, warm and dry places to thrive in, to build lifelong happy memories in, will welcome this announcement as a much needed shift towards a better, kinder New Zealand.

“But today’s announcement is not quite good enough. Housing New Zealand homes won’t fall under these standards for another four years. That’s too late. New Zealand has waited way too long for moves like the one today, and there’s no time to waste to improve the sorry state of all our rental homes.

“And there’s also some details lacking, around important issues including draughts and heat. These need to be completed and made public sooner rather than later.

“These new standards have big implications for businesses and supply chains, like heat pump providers for instance, who will need to gear up.”

Around half of New Zealand homes have visible mould. Half of New Zealand adults say they live in a cold house, and over 60 percent of Kiwis say their homes need repairs.

Cold and damp New Zealand houses have been linked to asthma, rheumatic fever and respiratory infections. Respiratory disease affects 700,000 Kiwis, is responsible for almost 80,000 hospital admissions, one-third of which are children, and costs New Zealand $6billion a year, according to the Asthma Foundation.

In November, the not-for-profit Green Building Council launched a free online check for all Kiwis to see if any home is warm, safe and dry, called HomeFit, as a bid to improve New Zealand homes. Almost 8,000 homes have been put through the check in just a few months.

Besides the free online check, which thousands of Kiwis are already using, those that want to prove to others that a home is warm, safe and dry can put their home through a full, independent appraisal, carried out by a trained assessor. Those that pass can then display the HomeFit stamp, showing to, say, prospective renters or buyers, that it is warm, dry, safe and efficient

Once all the details of the Healthy Homes Standards are confirmed, the Green Building Council intend to update HomeFit to ensure that a HomeFit stamp can be used to confirm if a home passes these mandatory levels too.