One rule for HNZ . . .

July 1, 2019

Today all rental houses have to comply with new rules for insulation.

By July 1, all New Zealand’s estimated 600,000 rental homes should have ceiling and under-floor insulation where possible.

However not all will, and landlords could be told to pay tenants up to $4000 compensation, with penalties of up to $1000 for property managers. . . 

Up to $4000 compensation is a big incentive for landlords to meet the new requirements and a big incentive for tenants to report landlords.

It could also be an incentive for some landlords to get our of renting houses.

Insulation isn’t the only requirement for rental properties. Minimum standard have also been set for heating, ventilation, moisture and drainage.

All rental homes will be required to:

  • Have a heater that can heat the main living area to 18 degrees Celsius.
  • Have ceiling and underfloor insulation that either meets the 2008 Building Code insulation standard, or (for existing ceiling insulation) has a minimum thickness of 120 millimetres.
  • Kitchens and bathrooms will be required to have extraction fans or rangehoods.
  • Install a ground moisture barrier to stop moisture rising into the home where there is an enclosed subfloor space.
  • Have adequate drainage and guttering to prevent water entering the home.
  • Block draughts that make a home harder to heat.

This will of course come at a cost. Some landlords might absorb it, but others will recoup at least some of the extra outlay through an increase in rents.

The timeline for compliance is:

July 1, 2021 – Private landlords must ensure rental properties comply with the healthy home standards within 90 days of any new tenancy, and all boarding houses must comply with the healthy home standards.

July 1, 2023 – All Housing New Zealand houses and registered Community Housing Providers houses must comply with the healthy home standards.

July 1, 2024 – All rental homes must comply with the healthy home standards.

Private landlords have to comply with the new standards in two years, the state landlord has four.

The Healthy Homes Standard do not go far enough to protect Housing New Zealand tenants from cold, damp, unhealthy conditions. There is no justifiable reason why Housing New Zealand would be given additional time to get its properties to meet these bare requirements of heating and ventilation”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty. . . 

The condition of the current Housing New Zealand homes means that even with insulation families are left in damp, cold homes due to the lack of proper energy efficient heaters and poor design. The cost cutting in the build of Housing New Zealand homes is passed on to tenants, who have to deal with high energy bills and healthcare costs. Insulation will not address the issue of dampness, which is a factor in our high rates of asthma and preventable respiratory diseases among low-income families.

“Our Government could be leading by example by strengthening the conditions of its own housing stock. Housing New Zealand is the biggest landlord in the country, yet it can leave its tenants in unsuitable homes for longer than the private sector. . .

Why is there one rule for HNZ and one for the private sector?

The government landlord be setting the example, not following two years behind.


KiwiCon

October 29, 2018

The new owners have moved into the first KiwBuild house.

. . .”It feels amazing, it feels like we have won the Lotto,” said Jayne, who at 25 and about to graduate as a doctor, was thrilled at winning a ballot for one of the first 18 KiwiBuild homes at McLennan Park.

Jayne and her 24-year-old partner Ross, an online marketer, were on the verge of giving up hope of getting on the property ladder in Auckland before “getting lucky” with KiwiBuild. . .

This is Lotto at the taxpayers’ expense.

The new homeowners have won but Auckland Action Against Poverty isn’t impressed:

 While the Government prioritises its flagship home-ownershp scheme, tens of thousands of people continue to be homeless in Aotearoa, with no hope of being able to ever afford living in one of these Kiwibuild homes. Auckland Action Against Poverty warns that the focus on building so called affordable private housing, subject to market speculation, will further exacerbate the housing crisis, instead of fixing it.

“KiwiBuild homes are out of reach for the working poor and the unemployed, who are the ones facing the real brunt of the housing crisis. With a price-tag of half a million dollars, KiwiBuild homes are a future speculator’s dream”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty’s Coordinator.

We echo the concerns of Monte Cecilia Housing Trust’s Bernie Smith, who called KiwiBuild a ‘community trainwreck’. Displacing thousands of public housing tenants in order to build private housing in public land is a form of partial privatisation of public land, and will cause distress for the tenants evicted.

“The planned net increase to the social housing stock will only be marginal. In South Auckland, the Government is planning to build 10,000 new homes, 3,000 being state homes, which will be built after demolishing 2,700. This means that altogether only a few hundred additional state homes will be available for our fast growing homeless population.

“The Government needs to recalibrate its priorities and instead focus on building far more permanent social housing than it is currently planning. For that to happen, Housing New Zealand needs to be properly resourced and public land needs to be used to house people in public housing, not unaffordable private houses.

“In a few years time we’ll have state led gentrification, with middle and high income earners being able to access some of the KiwiBuild homes while those at the bottom continue to struggle with fast rising rents and lack of social housing.

“We are calling on the Labour Government to get its priorities right and focus on the creation of social housing, instead of entrenching housing unaffordability”.

The price of the house and the age and occupation of the new owners make KiwiBuild look like more middle to upper income welfare.

If this young, professional, childless couple fit the criteria for a brand new home subsidised by taxpayers, then the criteria is wrong.

Yes it’s hard for people to buy any house in Auckland, and lots of other places. But why is helping people earning well above the average income into their own home a higher priority than meeting the needs of poorer people?

Mike Hosking calls it a con:

We may have discovered the crux of the KiwiBuild problem through some new figures from CoreLogic.

The median price paid by first home buyers for a home, for example, in Auckland, is $699,000. KiwiBuild do them for $650,000, so yes a saving, but not a lot.

What we are discovering here, is that the Government doesn’t appear to be able to do anything the market already isn’t. . . 

The real issue here – and this has become clearer and clearer with time and experience – is not the price of the KiwiBuild home, but the affordability.

At $650,000, you can call these homes anything you want. But affordable, for most, they are not.

Affordable for higher earners, a struggle for middle income people and the poor would need to win Lotto to afford them.

It’s called KiwiBuild, it should be KiwiCONstruction with the empahsis on con.

I don’t blame the couple for playing the game but do blame Labour for bad rules and bad policy.

 

 


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