Real estate agency Barfoot & Thompson is calling on National to scrap its plans to overturn the Healthy Homes Standards.
Earlier this month National proposed scrapping the heating requirement under the Government’s Healthy Homes Standards, which begin to come into effect in 2021.
Barfoot and Thompson director Kiri Barfoot said landlords had moral and social obligations to provide a healthy home to tenants.
“We don’t agree with everything in the Healthy Homes legislation… but people who can’t afford houses should be able to live in at least warm, healthy houses,” Barfoot said.
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“I don’t know why people would have a problem with that, particularly if they can afford to have a second home.”
The letter co-signed by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, the Hutt Valley District Health Board, Community Housing Aotearoa, NZ Green Building Council and university researchers called on National leader Judith Collins to support the Healthy Homes standards.
The letter said “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 $6 billion a year, according to the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ.”
Barfoot said the housing stock in New Zealand was “quite poor” compared to overseas and tenants had less control over what they could do to the house.
“People should be able to wake up and not see their own breath in front of their face and have black mould on the ceiling because their house is not insulated,” she said.
“We don’t want slum landlords, or to be taken to the Tenancy Tribunal because of them.
“I think there is an obligation if you get into property investment that you leave the property you bought better than when you first bought it, particularly if it’s more than five or 10 years old.”
But landlord advocacy group Stop the War on Tenancies spokesman Mike Butler said the requirements under the Healthy Homes regulations were “unnecessary” and “costly” for landlords.
“This is an additional cost to property owners and this cost is ultimately paid for through rent. The Government has failed to provide any substantial evidence that there is some link to the standards and the health of people living in those houses,” Butler said.
“The only evidence that the Government presented to launch their Healthy Home Guarantee standards was a one-sentence assertion about housing and hospitalisation in a book written by a pro-Labour academic, an economist, and a Salvation Army spokesman,” he said.
Butler said the proposed measures wouldn’t have a great deal of impact. What would have greater impact, he said, was if the occupants opened the windows and aired the place out and cleaned after themselves.
“I’ve been a landlord for 30 years and I’ve seen how units in the same building perform differently in terms of mould and condensation and it’s totally to do with how people live in them, not the building,” Butler said.
“The house doesn’t make the house dirty or mouldy, the people do.
“At the start of the tenancy the onus is on the owner to provide a clean property that is dry, all repairs done. At the end of the tenancy, the onus is on the outgoing tenant to return the property in the same standard it than before they let it, after taking into account wear and tear.”