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March 18, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Proposal Hits Flat Notes

But not just yet

Plans to introduce a minimum housing standard for rental properties is on the Government’s to-do list, prompting a positive reaction from students.

Housing Minister Nick Smith announced the plan to introduce a rental ‘warrant of fitness’ last week. Although Housing New Zealand properties will be subject to regulations first, students have welcomed the longer-term goal to introduce minimum standards into the private rental sector.

“The government seriously needs to do something about the standard of housing. It’s appalling, and the rent is outrageous for what you get,” said one Victoria student who has spent a year living in a substandard Wellington flat. “I definitely think my flat is below par in terms of heating and insulation.” 

However, there are also concerns that improved standards of living would inevitably raise the already high cost of renting in Wellington. Some students, facing rents of over $185 per week, have resorted to the Wellington Night Shelter, as reported in Salient on February 25.

“I can’t really stretch my budget any further,” another student reported.

Since 2011, National has promised to improve the quality of housing for New Zealanders, beginning with the development and refurbishment of state houses. Standards of rental properties have been largely unaddressed in government housing reforms to date.

Prior to Smith’s comments, the Government had indicated caution towards following Labour leader David Shearer’s plans to introduce a minimum housing standard for rental properties. Labour committed to a Healthy Homes Guarantee in 2012.

There is no timetable for the introduction of the minimum standard to the private sector as yet.

Substandard housing is blamed for causing preventable health concerns, with research showing that every $1 spent on improved housing saves $5 of healthcare.

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