Minimum standards for insulation and heating a step closer
Thursday 27 July 2017
Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith
National claims Labour's Healthy Homes Bill would push back the deadline for property investors to insulate their rentals.
By Miriam Bell
Labour Party leader Andrew Little’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill scraped through the vote with 60 votes to 59 to continue its progress towards becoming law.
However, with Parliament due to be dissolved by August 22 and just one more members’ day set down before then, the Bill is unlikely to progress any further before September’s election.
That means its future progress will be dependent on the next Parliament.
The Bill, which is opposed by the government, aims to establish minimum standards for insulation, heating, ventilation and drainage in all rental properties.
Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith said the Bill would delay the government’s current requirements for landlords to insulate their rental homes by 2019 by three years.
“There is no debate that insulation makes our homes healthier.
“But clause 2 of the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill has the requirement for landlords to comply with insulation standards come into force five years after the Act receives Royal Assent.”
According to Smith, there are already legal requirements for dwellings to be heated, ventilated, properly drained and free of draughts.
This means the only new issue in the Bill is the requirement for landlords to maintain their property at a minimum indoor temperature – which is impractical, he said.
“It is reasonable to require a landlord to provide appropriate heating but not to hold a landlord to account for the temperature of a home.
“This will depend on whether the heating is used, whether windows and doors are closed and whether drapes are pulled.”
Smith said the biggest issue in further improving the standard of rentals is enforcement, but there is good evidence that the standard of New Zealand housing is improving.
“The latest five-yearly BRANZ survey showed the proportion of well and reasonably maintained rental properties increased from 56% to 68% from 2010 to 2015.”
Labour, the Greens, NZ First, the Maori Party and United Future supported the Bill, while National and ACT opposed it.
United Future leader Peter Dunne said he supported the Bill because it is a basic good to have a warm and safe place to call home.
"We can all agree that it is a noble idea to seek better housing standards, but the method by which we do this is extremely important to make sure that with rising standards we avoid rising costs.”
He was disappointed that the Select Committee hearings on the Bill had not yielded anything further on whether costs to renters would increase as landlords pass on any costs resulting from the Bill.
"I am calling on Parliament to continue to work to provide a solution that will raise standards of our housing without imposing unnecessary burdens on landlords.”
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